Patriots bring back LB Koutouvides

After multiple special teams breakdowns in Sunday's home-opening loss to the Cardinals, the Patriots announced Wednesday that they have re-signed veteran linebacker Niko Koutouvides.

The 31-year-old Koutouvides was with the team in training camp and appeared in the final 11 regular-season games last season for the club, in addition to three playoff contests. He played on all four of the core special teams units -- kickoff coverage, kickoff return, punt coverage and punt return.

The Patriots had a punt blocked in Sunday's game against the Cardinals that was a key play in the game. Two other punts were nearly blocked before that.

Koutouvides replaces first-year linebacker Mike Rivera on the roster, as Rivera had been playing on all four core special teams units over the first two weeks of the 2012 season.

The team also confirmed the signings of Deion Branch and Kellen Winslow and the release of Rivera, Greg Salas and Lex Hilliard.