For the second time in as many years, the New England Patriots’ leadership group features two first-time captains.
Safety Duron Harmon and center David Andrews both were elected captains in a team vote, joining quarterback Tom Brady, safety Devin McCourty, special teamer Matthew Slater, tight end Rob Gronkowski and linebacker Dont’a Hightower.
Gronkowski and Hightower both earned captain status for the first time in 2016, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick was not surprised to see Harmon, 26, and Andrews, 25, do so this year.
“Both of those guys have done a good job, and it’s good to have a youthful layer of leadership in that group,” Belichick said in a conference call Monday afternoon. “Some of those players like Tom, Matt and Devin have been captains for a long time. Rob and High both have a lot of experience. I think David and Duron add a good element to the group and an important one.”
Harmon, a third-round draft pick in 2013, is in his fifth season with the Patriots. Andrews, who signed as an undrafted free agent in 2015, is in his third.
“We’ve had some young captains on the team in the past like Devin and Jerod (Mayo), so I think it’s good for those guys to be in there in the meetings and in that position with some of our other very good and experienced veteran leaders,” Belichick said. “There’s an element of transition and learning from experienced players there that’s beneficial to everybody. Not just the young players — it’s beneficial to the more experienced captains and myself.”
Harmon and Andrews both criticized the Patriots’ mental toughness after the team’s 42-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Thursday, echoing statements made by Brady and veteran tackle Nate Solder. Andrews also was quick to turn the focus back to the play on the field after being asked Friday about his captaincy.
“It was great,” Andrews said. “It was one of those things where it was a great honor, and I appreciate it. But we’re here to play, and that’s what I want to do — play and win football games.”
After a weekend off, the Patriots will visit the New Orleans Saints this Sunday in Week 2.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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