FOXBORO -- Tuesday afternoon defensive end Rob Ninkovich was optimistic, though vague, about the foot injury he sustained in New England's win over the Steelers.
"In the game there, I had a little something," he allowed. "I 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 [with] running around and doing whatever it is as far as a week of recovery."
Ninkovich limped off the field in the third quarter Sunday. He went to the locker room for a brief exam and eventually returned to the sideline. After attempting a few sprints out of a set position, he left the field a second time. He did not come back.
But his presence in the locker room after the game was a positive sign. Even better, Ninkovich worked out with his teammates today in a last session before the bye week.
The Patriots have five days off and 13 until their next game, in Carolina. A much needed break. Head coach Bill Belichick noted no one in the locker room is 100-percent healthy at this time of the year; Ninkovich is only one of many who's happy for the time off.
Which is not to say his mind won't be on the game at all. Even after a decisive Week 9 win, there's plenty for the defense to pick apart after surrendering 31 points.
"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. 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."