He entered the NFL as a second-round draft pick of the Patriots in 2013, was traded to the Cleveland Browns in 2016, and then returned to play for the club in 2019. Collins had signed a three-year deal with the Lions as a free agent in 2020.
The Patriots are expected to place reserve defensive lineman Henry Anderson on injured reserve to make space on the roster for Collins. Anderson suffered a chest injury in Sunday night's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to the team.
Collins, 31, should be able to contribute quickly given his familiarity with the team's system.
The Patriots have been managing injuries at linebacker, having lost Raekwon McMillan to a torn ACL in the preseason, and with starting inside linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley missing Sunday's game with a shoulder ailment. They've called up linebacker Jahlani Tavai from the practice squad each of the past two weeks, and now Collins can help fill that void.
Meanwhile, the Patriots placed starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn and starting left guard Mike Onwenu on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. While there is a possibility they could play in Sunday's road game against the Houston Texans, the team will open practice this week with two different players protecting quarterback Mac Jones' blind side.