Hightower, Brady, Ninkovich sit out

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots were without three players, including rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower, for their first of two bye-week practices on Wednesday.

Hightower, along with quarterback Tom Brady and defensive end Rob Ninkovich, were not spotted at the start of Wednesday's session, held outdoors in cold conditions.

While Ninkovich wasn't expected to practice this week after leaving the second quarter of Sunday's game with a hip injury, Hightower's absence is more surprising. Hightower has been listed on the injury report with shoulder and hamstring injuries for several weeks, but was on the field for the final play of the Miami Dolphins' last full drive on Sunday.

Brady's absence is likely just a case of the team resting its oldest player during the Patriots' playoff bye week.

The Patriots do not have to file an injury report this week.