Brinkley had arthroscopic hip surgery last Tuesday to repair his labrum. The surgery was performed by Dr. Marc Philippon in Colorado, the same surgeon who worked on Sidney Rice's hip a year earlier.
Brinkley is still unclear when he really hurt the hip. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said the injury went back to last season, and if that's the case it is the first injury where the lockout may have cost a Vikings player the entire season. If Brinkley was able to work out at the Vikings' Winter Park facility during the offseason and have the guidance of their medical staff, he might have been able to detect the need to have the surgery sooner.
"It wasn't a problem until I got back to training camp. It's one those things that you don't know until the symptoms start arriving," Brinkley said.
"It definitely needed to be done. It wasn't something that you could play through."
Last year, Rice had hip surgery in August that kept him out of action for the first 10 games of the season. In his case, he traced the injury to the Vikings' loss in the 2009 NFC Championship Game.
While Brinkley was unable to pinpoint the exact time of the injury, he said the pain increased to an unplayable level last week.
"I really don't know when I hurt it. That's the thing we're scratching our heads on," he said. "It became clear something was wrong with me last week when it got to the point where I couldn't hardly run."
He was also unsure of the timetable for his recovery, but said he will be ready for next season "without a doubt."
Brinkley entered the preseason with the hopes of competing for a starting spot at weakside linebacker, the position that Ben Leber played. With Leber signed by the St. Louis Rams, Brinkley would have been battling Erin Henderson for the starting job. Instead, Brinkley spent Monday's practice on the sidelines with his crutches.
Last year, Brinkley played on 73 percent of the Vikings' special-teams snaps.
"It's devastating to a point, but at same time you have to be positive about situations like this," he said. "Things like this happen for a reason. Who knows what might happen in the future?"
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.