Rob Ninkovich optimistic about foot

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich left Sunday's 55-31 win over the Steelers with a foot injury, though he was on the sideline late in the game and appeared ready to come back in if the game had been closer.

He was on the practice field and talked briefly about the foot issue Tuesday when addressing the media.

"In the game there, I had a little something there, just don't really want to get into the specifics of it, but it's something that with having a week off, I'm sure I'll feel even better next week and running around and doing whatever it is as far as a week of recovery," he said.

The Patriots won't have to submit a practice participation report until next Thursday, at which point we'll have a better feel for Ninkovich's availability for the Nov. 18 game at Carolina.

The bye affords Ninkovich time to improve from a health standpoint. At the same time, the veteran defensive captain is targeting team improvement during the final seven regular-season games as well.

"There's a lot of room for improvement," he said. "If you look at the two games we didn't win, there's a lot of things in those games that are kind of similar as far as not starting fast and not coming out in the third quarter and finishing games.

"Really just trying to have a full four-quarter victory is something that we're still trying to have and I don't think we've done it yet," he continued. "So we're going to continue to work to come out and start fast [in] all three phases, then at halftime come out in all three phases, work together, all four quarters."