Gronkowski, Hightower Serving As First-Time Captains For Patriots

BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots’ group of captains this year involves two newcomers.

Of course, they’re not new to the team, but tight end Rob Gronkowski and linebacker Dont’a Hightower will be stepping up into new leadership roles as team captains.

They’ll be joined by perennial captains Matthew Slater and Devin McCourty. For both Slater and McCourty, it’s their sixth time as a team captains (2011-16).

Gronkowski, now 27, is entering his seventh season, while the 26-year-old Hightower is entering year six with the Patriots.

Last week, Gronkowski was presented with this year’s Ron Burton Community Service Award, while earlier this summer, Hightower discussed his increased leadership role on the team.

“I learned my lesson a couple years ago when [Jerod] Mayo went down, trying not to be myself and be somebody else,” Hightower told Jeff Howe. “As far as leadership goes, I lead different than Willie [McGinest] did, and I’ll lead different than Mayo did. I’ll approach things the way I feel they should be approached.”

Notably absent from the list is Tom Brady, who is suspended and thus can’t perform a captain’s duties. Considering Brady’s been a captain since 2002, it’s likely he’ll resume the role when he returns to the team in October, though that wasn’t addressed in the report.

The Patriots open their season on Sunday night in Arizona.

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