Patriots' Ninkovich not certain starter in '11

Posted Jan. 15, 2011 @ 10:24 p.m.
Posted By PFW staff

We are hearing the following whispers from around the AFC East:

• Patriots OLB Rob Ninkovich had a breakout season in his first year starting, with nine quarterback hits and six tackles for loss. But the Pats will still likely use one of their early picks on a pass-rushing linebacker, and one daily team observer believes that Ninkovich is just one of many defensive starters this season who is not guaranteed a starting spot in 2011.

• With offensive coordinator Dan Henning and QB coach David Lee both leaving Miami, and likely RB Ronnie Brown as well, some wonder if that means the "Wildcat" formation has seen its last days with the Dolphins. The formation was good for just a 3.3-yard rushing average this season following 6.4 in 2008 and 4.7 in '09. But we hear that Tony Sparano is still a big fan of it, and if improvements are made on the offensive line, it will still be around in 2011.

Antonio Cromartie's trash talking about the Patriots and Tom Brady got a reaction out of a lot of people, but one person who didn't seem to mind was Mike Pettine. The Jets' defensive coordinator told reporters that pregame chatter plays no role in the final outcome. "Once you get in the mode of the game, you're playing the game, and all of the in-between stuff is in-between," Pettine said. "I look at that stuff, it's talk, and that's just what it is."

• The Bills plan on retaining their entire coaching staff from 2010 except for ILB coach DeMontie Cross, who will not be brought back. Expect Chan Gailey to bring in a veteran leader to replace Cross. Defensive coordinator George Edwards had a rough year in his first season leading the defense, and Gailey would like another person with NFL experience on his staff, especially on the side of the ball for which the head coach does not oversee the play-calling.