FOXBORO -- The Patriots have announced defensive end Rob Ninkovich and safety Devin McCourty as captains. The two leadership roles were originally given to nose tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo, but both have suffered serious injuries this season and have been relegated to IR.
Ninkovich, an eight-year NFL veteran, spoke about the personnel losses earlier this week.
"Just like anything you have to deal with in an NFL season, there's ups and downs that every team has to go through with whoever it is on the field. We're just going to continue to do what we do, work hard together, and come together as a team on defense. Guys like myself have to have more of a leadership role and do a little bit more."
He was right; the team made it official just four days later.
McCourty has been named captain twice before, first in 2011 and then in 2012. But despite being comfortable with responsibility, he made it clear this week he's not replacing anyone.
"I think of it as Mayo and Vince are still our captains; I'm just stepping in and filling a title, or a role.
“When guys get hurt and they can’t be around, guys have to step up. And I’ve been appointed one of those guys to step up but it’s no different. Guys on defense have to step up, guys like Steve Gregory, that’s played a lot of football here already; [Brandon] Spikes, a guy that’s a fourth-year player, as well," he said. "We’ve all got to step up and kind of be group captains now,”