FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rosevelt Colvin spent weekday mornings fixing his daughters' hair and driving them to school in Houston. Sometimes he would be in Indianapolis at the two UPS stores he owns.
On Sundays, he would go to church and then relax, perhaps by watching an NFL game on television. He had plenty of time to mow his lawn and eat dinner at home.
"I was at peace," Colvin said.
Freed from the strict routine of a player, the dangerous pass rusher had settled into a fulfilling life of a husband, father and small-business owner after being released by the Houston Texans at the end of training camp.
Then the New England Patriots called.
On Wednesday, Colvin was back in the locker room he had occupied the past five seasons, ready to abandon the freedom he had enjoyed for the busy schedule of football.
"I didn't necessarily have something to prove," he said Wednesday after signing with the Patriots. "It wasn't like I was scratching walls trying to get back in the game. (But) it's definitely a benefit and a plus to have an opportunity."
Adalius Thomas missed the past three games with a broken forearm. In Sunday's 33-10 loss to Pittsburgh, Pierre Woods hurt his jaw and Vince Redd hurt his ankle. None of those three practiced Wednesday.
"We got depleted at outside linebacker," coach Bill Belichick said. "Rosie has been here before. He certainly knows what we are doing and knows the defense. There is a much smaller learning curve with him."
Before deciding to return, Colvin spent a rare Thanksgiving with his parents and sisters. The father of four talked with his wife about rejoining the Patriots. Now he's here.
"Life is ever evolving," he said. "I'm just buying time and, hopefully, that time will extend past this weekend."
But Colvin didn't have a burning passion to return to the NFL.
"Was I retired? No," he said, "but just stepping away from the game was not a situation that was difficult for me.
"I just felt that it had to be the right situation" to play again, he said. "So, definitely, the love I have for the organization and the guys on the team was one of the things that was in front of my mind."
The Patriots signed Colvin as an unrestricted free agent in 2003 after back-to-back seasons of 10½ sacks with the Chicago Bears. But that season ended when he suffered a hip injury in the second game. He played all 16 games in each of the next three seasons, then missed the last five plus the playoffs last season with a foot injury.
"It's going to help tremendously," cornerback Ellis Hobbs said. He's "a guy who knows the scheme, who knows what we want, who knows what to do there and has the experience."
With 52½ sacks in nine seasons, Colvin may provide the quarterback pressure the Patriots (7-5) need to improve their playoff chances.
"He's a guy that can definitely rush the passer," defensive end Richard Seymour said, "but we need everything right now. We need a pass rusher. We need run stoppers. So all hands on deck heading out to Seattle."
Colvin returned to practice on Wednesday and could be blitzing Matt Hasselbeck on Sunday.
"Rushing the quarterback is my love," he said. "I've just got to knock some of the rust off and hopefully that'll happen real soon."
Even without football, his year has been very satisfying.
"Some of the things I've gotten to do as a father that I wasn't able to do before have been very beneficial and has allowed me to grow as a man, as a husband," Colvin said. "So I wouldn't trade the experience for anything."
Still, he answered the call of a team that needs him, trailing by one game in the AFC East and one in the wild-card race with only four remaining.
But the Patriots, who won two Super Bowls with Colvin, still can reach the postseason.
"This really is a chance just to get back in for a split second to do something maybe unique," he said. "One more shot at trying to get to the highest level and, if it works out, then it's great. If not, then I'll definitely be going back home to spend more time with my kids."