Patriots Lose LB Rob Ninkovich to Injury

Ian Logue
December 31, 2012 at 12:43am ET

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New England suffered a potential setback on Sunday, with linebacker Rob Ninkovich suffering an injury during the Patriots 28-0 win over the Dolphins.

Ninkovich went down with just over 6-minutes to go in the 2nd quarter and had to be helped off the field, and seemed to really be struggling on his way down the stairs into the locker room.

The team later called it a "hip" injury and that his return was "questionable".  He never came back out onto the field and his status is now in doubt heading into the postseason.

Bill Belichick offered the standard, "I don't know" when asked about Ninkovich's status after the game, but talked about the versatility he gives them on the field.

“Well, he’s mainly played defensive end this year," said Belichick.   "But he’s also, of course, played in the kicking game and at times he plays some linebacker but he’s done that before in the past for us. It’s pretty common, there’s a lot of guys in the league who play linebacker that then go to rush on third down. We’re in a four-man front so he’s been rushing most of the time.

"He’s a tough kid, he’s very competitive and he’s got good versatility and his ability to help us in the kicking game as well as defensively over the years including this year, that’s pretty valuable too. He does a good job.”

For now his potential absence leaves them with some work ahead as they look for yet another player to step up and help them get through what has been a tough season as far as injuries are concerned.

Overall Ninkovich finished the 2012 season with eight sacks, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.  He also assisted on one tackle Sunday before he suffered his injury.