Reports: Ninkovich avoids serious injury

Starting Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich, who has carved out an important role on defense and finished the regular season with a team-leading eight sacks, has avoided a serious injury, according to reports from the Boston Herald and Comcast Sports Net.

Ninkovich left Sunday's finale with a hip injury in the second quarter, but the Herald's Jeff Howe reported that "there's a good chance he can play when the Patriots open the postseason Jan. 13, according to a source. He suffered some strained muscles in his hip, which is a positive development after there was some legitimate, initial fear the injury could cost him the postseason."

Meanwhile, Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com wrote, "The news on Rob Ninkovich's injured left hip is better than anticipated. After additional evaluation was done Monday, there is cautious optimism that the Patriots defensive end could be back for the Patriots' AFC Divisional Playoff game in 13 days. ... Everything will hinge, however, on how well Ninkovich's hip responds to treatment."