Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/31/12

PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 14: Rashard Mendenhall of the Pittsburgh Steelers is tackled by Rob Ninkovich of the New England Patriots during the game on November 14, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
When Rob Ninkovich went down on Sunday, and had a tough time getting off the field, it was easy to be reminded of Andre Carter‘s Week 15 season-ending injury in 2011. Luckily, it appears Ninkovich’s injury is far less serious. The Patriots’ defensive end suffered strained muscles in his hip, and is expected back for the Patriots’ first playoff game, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. Ninkovich gingerly walked off the field midway through the second quarter against the Dolphins and did not return to the game. Ninkovich leads the team in sacks this season with eight. He has started all 16 games for the team this season at left defensive end. He’s also contributed with 58 tackles, seven quarterback hits and 22 quarterback hurries. He has one interception and has forced five fumbles. Photo via Facebook/NewEnglandPatriots
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