The Patriots made it official Thursday by announcing the signing of special teams captain Matthew Slater.

Slater led the team with 17 special teams tackles in 2011, and he earned his first Pro Bowl nod, too.

Slater, a fifth-round draft pick out of UCLA in 2008, has been a wide receiver by trade, but his major contributions have always been in the kicking game. He also made a brief switch to safety midway through the 2011 season to help the Patriots' depth as they battled injuries.

It made sense for Slater to stay with New England. He's a humble, hardworking, loyal player who is very low-maintenance. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has always enjoyed Slater's presence, so the two were a logical match to remain together in 2012.

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