With preparations for the Eagles winding down on Friday, the Patriots announced their six captains for the 2023 season, including one first-timer and another player ringing in their 13th-straight season as a captain. These are the leaders that will set the tone going forward into this year's campaign, as new faces continue to emerge as the foundational pieces in Foxborough.
"It's a really good group," said Bill Belichick on Friday morning of the new captains. "Proud of the guys that the team selected. They're all off-season program winners so guys that have really been strong performers all the way through going back to April."
Here are the 2023 captains.
David Andrews: This will be Andrews' seventh time as a Patriots captain, going back seven-straight years to the 2017 season. Andrews entered the league as an undrafted rookie in 2015, starting 11 games in his first season. A stalwart in the middle of the offensive line, Andrews is a key player at a position group with a lot of questions.
"I think David is just the ideal Patriot... he's an awesome guy, definitely a team leader and one of my great friends," said Mac Jones this summer of Andrews. "He just practices hard every day. It doesn't matter if he's in there with the one's, two's, three's, he doesn't care. He's just going to work.
Ja'Whaun Bentley: A rising leader on the defense, Bentley was named captain for the third time in his career. Bentley entered the league as a fifth-round pick in 2018 draft and has become one of the team's most important defenders as an off-the-ball linebacker. Bentley recorded career highs in sacks and tackles in 2022.
"He's been great on and off the field," said Bill Belichick last December of Bentley. "Leadership on the field. Communication, very good communicator which is important in the role that he plays... Very unselfish player. Does what's best for the defense, what's best for the team, not what's best for him. So, that makes it a lot easier to have somebody who always thinks what's the best thing for the defense to be in, not what's easiest for me.
Hunter Henry: A first-time captain, Henry had a strong summer and was actively involved in the offense. Despite a dip from nine touchdowns in 2021 to just two in 2022, Henry appears poised for a bounce-back season in the red zone this year. Clearly, his leadership on and off the field has made an impression on his teammates.
"He's here every day, consistency, he made a lot of improvement," said Bill Belichick at the start of training camp regarding Henry's 2023 offseason. "Of course, last year, he was coming off of a surgery, but this year, he had a really good, productive offseason from a strength and conditioning standpoint. Last year, it was more rehab. He was very productive on the field, gave us good leadership, he's great."
Mac Jones: Mac will be one of the Patriots captains for the second year in a row, as he's been consistently praised by coaches and teammates this summer for his hard work and focus throughout the offseason.
"Mac's had a good offseason and has had a really good camp," Bill Belichick said earlier this week. "He comes to work every day, comes in early, stays late, works hard, understands the offense: how it works, how to get his teammates involved, how to help them be productive. So, he's had a really good stretch here in training camp and had a good spring to propel himself into this time period, so it's been pretty consistent all the way through."
Matthew Slater: The crew veteran, this will be Slater's 13th straight season as a captain of the Patriots. Slater is a 10-time Pro Bowler and continues to play at a high level in his primary role as a special teams gunner. Slater is the franchise's all-time leader in special teams tackles (172) and is third all-time in the NFL since 1994.
"Matt's a great person, great player, great teammate," said Bill Belichick of Slater last January. "It's about as close to perfect as you could get. So, he's been a great asset to me personally. Been a great asset to our team and organization on multiple levels. It's something I see every day. So, I don't think there's any day that he doesn't motivate, lead, provide an example for every one of us. Players, coaches, everybody's around him."
Deatrich Wise: Another emerging leader, this will be Wise's second year in a row being voted as a captain. Wise had a breakout season in 2022, his sixth year in the league, recording highs in tackles, sacks (7.5) and forced fumbles (2).
"Wise has always been a pretty mature kid," said Bill Belichick last season. "Very hardworking. One of the most diligent workers we have. Great attitude, always puts the team first, always looking to do extra. Whatever you tell him to do, he works really hard to do it. It's kind of always been that way. Like any player, he's physically developed, improved his techniques, just become a more experienced player."