|Niko Koutouvides goes from a sports bar back to the New England locker room||09.19.12 at 2:54 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Niko Koutovides watching last Sunday’s game between the Patriots and Cardinals like many football fans: in a sports bar.
The linebacker, who had been recently cut loose by New England, couldn’t get the game at home in Connecticut, so he went out to the Wood-n-Tap Bar & Grill and watched the second half of the New England-Arizona contest.
“I’m a big fan of not only my teammates but a Patriot fan,” Koutouvides said before practice on Wednesday. “The first game in Connecticut, we had it. But this last game, for some reason, the game wasn’t on TV there, so I had to go down to a local bar to watch the game. I caught the second half.”
Did anyone recognize you?
“No, but it was flooded with Patriot fans,” he said with a smile, “and they get a little rowdy and love to have fun. It was a pretty fun atmosphere.”
He should have a significantly better view this Sunday, as Koutouvides was re-signed by the Patriots on Tuesday. The 31-year-old, primarily a special teamer, said he’s glad to be back in the New England locker room.
“It’s always good to be back, especially back here with my fellow teammates. I’m excited. Ready to start practicing and ready to get ready for Baltimore,” said the 6-foot-2, 245-pounder.
“In this business, you never know. I was just working out, just staying in shape and was anticipating a call from somebody. Just happy to be back here as a Patriot.”
It was a tough stretch for Koutouvides. Last season, for the first time in his career, he was out of the game for an extended stretch. That made him think about his professional mortality.
“Last year was kind of the first time I’ve dealt with it,” he said when asked about how difficult it is to be out of the game. “I wouldn’t say it gets any easier, but I’d say the mindset is a little different. In this league, you’re not going to play forever — I’m starting to understand that.
“You know, you want to go out on your own terms, but obviously, the league we play in and the way the business works, very rarely do guys have the opportunity to leave on their own. So I was staying in shape and hoping for a callback, and I’m back. So I’m excited and getting ready to focus on Baltimore.”
Based on his previous experience in the system, Koutouvides remains confident that he will be able to jump right back in and contribute this Sunday against the Ravens.
“Yeah, I think so,” he said. “Obviously, I have to work a lot, get the game plan, study, get ready to start putting the pads back on. Last year, I was out for almost six or seven weeks, which was a little different. This time around, it’s only been two weeks.”
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