By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots have named their team captains for the 2020 season. Two of them aren’t the least bit surprising, while three others earned the honor for the first time with the team.
Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater are team captains for the 10th season in a row, as first reported by the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride on Wednesday. Also among the new team captains are Devin’s twin brother Jason McCourty, defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley.
McCourty is entering his third season with the Patriots and has played some of the best football of his career in New England, most notably breaking up a potential touchdown to Brandin Cooks in Super Bowl LIII. Guy is entering his fourth season with the team and has become one of the most productive and consistent players on the defensive line.
Bentley, however, is arguably the most noteworthy addition to the list of team captains. He represents the new era of Patriots defenders, earning the captain distinction in just his third season in the NFL. Bentley served as a team captain at Purdue for three years, the first player in school history to do so.
The third-year linebacker is something of an “elder statesman” in the room for 2020. Veteran Brandon Copeland has the edge in league experience, but with Dont’a Hightower opting out of the season and others departing via free agency, Bentley is the longest-tenured linebacker on the Patriots. He’s taken on more responsibility to communicate directly with younger linebackers, such as rookies Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings.
“I think that’s person-to-person,” Bentley said when asked about his communication with younger players. “It depends on who you’re talking to and who’s giving the information. Obviously being out on the field and having some in-game experience, you can kind of break down what happened or break down what’s trying to be explained and things like that.
“Having the in-game experience definitely helps a little bit when you’re trying to break that down, as opposed to being a new player and not knowing what may happen in situations or how the communication may play out. So I think it’s definitely person-to-person, but we always try to bridge the gap, in a way.”
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Bentley appears on track to follow in the footsteps of Hightower and Jerod Mayo before him, as a signal-caller in the Patriots defense and a leader of the linebacking corps. He has yet to show what he’s capable of in a major role over the course of a full season, but 2020 is his big opportunity. The fact that he’s a team captain is a good sign.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at firstname.lastname@example.org.