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Patriots name their five captains — and they’re all familiar choices

Special teams ace Matthew Slater has been a captain for 11 straight seasons.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots named their captains for the 2021 season.

Center David Andrews, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Devin McCourty, special teamer Matthew Slater, and running back James White will represent the team.

“It’s definitely a huge honor,” Andrews said Wednesday. “I don’t take it lightly.”

All have served as captains for at least three seasons. McCourty and Slater have been captains for 11 straight years.

McCourty reflected on his first captains’ meeting with Slater, back in 2011, when they shared the room with Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Logan Mankins — and how the opportunity early in his career shaped his approach.


Devin McCourty has carved out a niche as one of the true leaders on the Patriots' roster.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

“For me, it was just learning from all of those guys, seeing how they saw the game, seeing how they saw what we need to do as a team,” McCourty said. “When I was that young, I didn’t think about that. I thought about myself and what I needed to do.

“Being in those meetings really opened my mind up to specifically what we need to do as a defense and the secondary, how we needed to play.”

The players vote for the captains each season. In 2020, the Patriots had eight captains: Andrews, McCourty, Slater, White, defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, cornerback Jason McCourty, linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, and quarterback Cam Newton.

McCourty signed with the Dolphins during this offseason, and Newton was released last week. Guy and Bentley were not re-elected.

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

Stop the run

New Patriots nose tackle Davon Godchaux stole a line from his college coach, LSU’s Ed Orgeron, when discussing his mentality for the upcoming season.


“Stop the run and have some fun,” Godchaux said.

Last season, New England’s defense struggled to do that, yielding the seventh-most rushing yards in the league. The Patriots allowed 2,103 yards, the third-most rushing yards allowed in Belichick’s 22 years at the helm.

Godchaux, who signed a two-year deal this offseason, is working to ensure the same problems don’t persist.

“I was built on stopping the run,” he said. “That’s the key, that’s the motto. You’re not going to be a tough team if you don’t stop the run.

“It’s got to do with some technique, but it’s mostly all about toughness.”

The first test will come against Miami, Godchaux’s former team, which rushed for a season-high 250 yards against the Patriots in Week 15 last year.

If the Dolphins generate any additional excitement or motivation for Godchaux, he isn’t letting it on. He said he’s treating Sunday’s season opener simply as “the next game.”

Godchaux also said he still has friends on the team, but he’s not looking forward to going up against anybody in particular, other than “the guy across from me.”

“It’s not about me,” he said. “It’s not about the Miami Dolphins. It’s about the New England Patriots.”

Asked about Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Godchaux declined to answer.

“Not really going to speak on that,” he said. “I enjoyed my time down in Miami, but I’m here in New England. I’m excited to get going on Sunday.”

Both Godchaux and linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who spent last season in Miami before getting released, brushed off the idea of leveraging any leftover intel this week.


“Any time you get a chance to play football, it’s exciting,” Van Noy said. “But more importantly, in the division, with a lot on the line off the bat, you couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Stay tuned

Former Patriots quarterback Cam Newton has a forthcoming announcement, teasing the news Wednesday via his Instagram account.

“On this week’s funky Friday, I have a lot of things to get off my chest,” Newton said in a short video. “This is not a retirement speech. I have a lot of football still in me.”

Newton, 32, was released by the Patriots last week, with the team electing to move forward with rookie Mac Jones. He remains unsigned.

Perfect attendance

Under sunny skies Wednesday, the Patriots had full attendance for their only full-pads practice of the week. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor (ankle), tackle Yodny Cajuste (hamstring), and safety Jalen Mills (ankle) were limited.

Rhamondre Stevenson, who according to The Athletic recently suffered a dislocated thumb, was a full participant. The rookie running back took his normal reps during the time media were allowed to watch, and wore white gloves on both hands. There was no noticeable extra wrapping on the thumb.

Veteran running back Brandon Bolden, who missed all three exhibition games, shed his red noncontact jersey. Practice squad cornerback D’Angelo Ross was the only non-quarterback to wear red.

Close to the vest

Belichick kept his remarks ahead of the season opener short and unrevealing, but he certainly seems to be a fan of Dolphins rookie receiver Jaylen Waddle, the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft. Said Belichick: “He has a really good skill set — fast, quick, punt returner, good with the ball in his hands, tough kid. He’s a good player.” … Godchaux threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park Tuesday night … Week 1 marks the start of Belichick’s 47th season as an NFL coach, a league record.


Jim McBride of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Nicole Yang can be reached at nicole.yang@globe.com.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang.