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New England Patriots Links 9/07/12 - Patriots Bring Back Familiar Captains

<em>"O Captain! My Captain!"  For the 11th time</em>.
"O Captain! My Captain!" For the 11th time.

Jeff Howe reports the Patriots announced their captains yesterday, and they’ll keep the same group as last season.

That includes Brady, Mankins, Wilfork, linebacker Jerod Mayo, cornerback Devin McCourty and wide receiver Matthew Slater (special teams). This is the 11th captaincy for Brady, the fifth for Wilfork, the fourth for Mayo, and the second for Mankins, McCourty and Slater.

Mike Petraglia predicts ten things that will surprise us about the 2012 Patriots. Here are a few...

Stevan Ridley will carry the ball 300 times for 1,100 yards. The second-year back out of LSU learned his lesson from his two fumbles at the end of last season. He showed explosiveness between the tackles and the ability to get to the edge. He is the single biggest factor in helping to take some of the workload off Brady’s shoulders.

The offensive line will stabilize and be a non-story by November. As much legitimate worry there was in the preseason for the men protecting Tom Brady, there will be as much confidence after the first two months. The reason: motion. The Patriots will run hurry-up and no-huddle and keep opposing defenses on its toes. Nate Solder will settle down. Ryan Wendell will show he’s dependable. Dan Connolly will fill the shoes of Brian Waters and Sebastian Vollmer and Marcus Cannon will rotate smoothly at right tackle. It’s the second biggest limb I’m going out on in this list but one I think that’s worth it.

Jermaine Cunningham will help turn the Patriots into a NASCAR front. Bill Belichick knows a good thing when he sees it. Good friend Urban Meyer was surprised Belichick chose Cunningham before Brandon Spikes with the second of three second-round picks in the 2010 draft. But Belichick saw a raw pass-rushing talent. He decided to store him away for the right situation. After watching what the Giants did with their "NASCAR" speed pass rush on their way to the Super Bowl title last season, Belichick now sees the promise in Chandler Jones, Jermaine Cunningham, Trevor Scott and Rob Ninkovich, all of whom have the potential of getting to the quarterback.

Chandler Jones will set the NFL rookie sack record. Jevon "The Freak" Kearse set the record with the Titans, collecting 14 1/2 sacks in 1999. Jones has shown a high motor on the field and a free spirit in the locker room. All roads lead to the quarterback for the rookie out of Syracuse. He’ll become the defensive answer to Gronk, a freak on the defensive side of the ball the Patriots have desperately needed.

Jeff Howe notes Logan Mankins isn't too concerned with the replacement refs and figures the officials — regardless of whether they’re full-timers or fill-ins — would miss some calls.

"We’ve had the normal officials out there, and they make bad calls," Mankins said. "If these guys make a bad call, it’s no different than normal really. Every time they call a hold on me, it’s never a hold. They must just get my number confused with someone else’s."