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Patriots announce five team captains for 2021 season

No first-time captains reside among New England’s veteran group.

NFL: AUG 19 Preseason - Patriots at Eagles Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Patriots announced five team captains for the 2021 campaign on Wednesday.

No first-time names reside among them.

Running back James White, center David Andrews, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Devin McCourty and perennial All-Pro gunner Matthew Slater all retained their titles as the calendar turns to September.

In the backfield and on the offensive line, White and Andrews enter their fourth and fifth years as Patriots captains, respectively. McCourty in the secondary and Slater on special teams have now extended their streaks to 11 years as the longest-tenured members of the locker room.

And returning as the green dot along the defensive front is Hightower, who was previously elected a captain in 2016, 2017 and 2019 before opting out of 2020 due to Covid-19 concerns.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said in his Wednesday press conference. “We’ve had a lot of good leaders on the team. Captains are certainly a part of that, but there’s a lot of leadership that comes on the team in addition to whoever the captains are.”

Last fall, New England carried eight captains, including defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley and a pair of veterans no longer on the roster in quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Jason McCourty.

The Patriots open the regular season Sunday against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Kickoff is set for 4:25 p.m. ET.