FOXBORO (CBS) — After the Patriots soundly defeated the Dolphins 28-0 in Week 17, the only reason for concern in New England was for Rob Ninkovich, who left the game due to a hip injury.

Relief arrived Thursday, though, when the linebacker returned to the practice field at Gillette Stadium.

Ninkovich led the team with eight sacks this season, a full two sacks more than Chandler Jones, who was second on the team with six. Ninkovich was also tied with Brandon Spikes for the team lead in forced fumbles with five, which ties him for sixth in the NFL in that category. His four fumble recoveries have him tied for most in the NFL.

Dont’a Hightower and Tom Brady also returned to practice on Thursday after missing Wednesday’s session. Thursday’s practice was the last session of the week, with the players having Friday through Sunday off as they await the results of this weekend’s games to learn who their next opponent will be.


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