Carolina Panthers linebacker Mark Fields was fined $5,000 by the NFL on Friday for unnecessary roughness in last weekend’s victory over Tampa Bay, the Charlotte Observer reported on its Web site.

Fields’ sack of Buccaneers quarterback Brian Griese resulted in unnecessary roughness. Fields grabbed Griese’s face mask and unnecessarily twisted his head, said league spokesman Michael Signora.

RIVERS TIME: Two days before he’s expected to get the most extensive playing time of his rookie season, Chargers backup quarterback and N.C. State alumnus Philip Rivers missed practice to be with his wife, Tiffany, at a hospital on New Year’s Eve, awaiting the birth of their second child.

Rivers said the baby was due Friday, two days before the AFC West champion Chargers (11-4) host the Chiefs (7-8) in a game that’s meaningless except to players like Rivers, who held out after being drafted and was stuck on the sidelines while Drew Brees had a Pro Bowl season.

Rivers has taken just six snaps this season, all at the end of a 26-point win. He handed off three times, then took a knee three times to end it.

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