Patriots name captains

Albert Breer

With their absences, Troy Brown, Rodney Harrison and Richard Seymour have lost more than game experience.

Each has lost his captaincy.

Yesterday, the Patriots announced seven captains for the 2007 season. Four of them - Tom Brady, Tedy Bruschi, Larry Izzo and Mike Vrabel - are holdovers. Izzo has been a captain since 2001, while Brady and Bruschi joined him in 2002, and Vrabel became one in '05.

New in the role this year are Kevin Faulk, Junior Seau and Ty Warren.

"It's about one word. It's about respect," said coach Bill Belichick of the honor. "It's not about talent. It's not an MVP vote. It's a vote and leadership and I think we're fortunate on this team that we have a lot of players that fall into that category. The ones that are selected, I don't think that takes away from the ones that weren't."

Especially if the exclusion has come due to circumstance, as seems to be the case with Brown (captain since 2001), Harrison (since '03) and Seymour (since '02). The Patriots have added captains - Harrison being one - during the season in the past, so any of these three could assume the role upon returning.

Both Brown (torn patella tendon) and Seymour (arthroscopic knee surgery) will miss the first six games of the season after being placed on the reserve/PUP list. Harrison, meanwhile, will serve a four-game suspension after admitting to federal authorities that he purchased human growth hormone.

So Faulk and Warren, both career Patriots, and Seau, a second-year Patriot and 18-year NFL veteran, take their places. Last year, when the since-departed Daniel Graham was named a captain in midseason, the Patriots carried eight captains.

Just like in 2006, they'll start this year with seven.

"It's a great honor," said Seau, who served as a captain in his Charger years. "I look forward to the season and, obviously, embracing that role and going from there. Every day, it's a challenge."

One change in the role is that this year 31 NFL teams will have their captains wear a league-issued `C' on the left side of his jersey.

Whatever the trappings may be, the important thing, the players say, is continuing to do what garnered the respect needed to be elected.

"What's expected of a captain is what he's been doing, what got him there," said Faulk, who was last a captain at Carencro (La.) High. "The hard work and the dedication to his teammates, to his team, to his coaches and everything. ... I've just been Kevin. I've just been me, and that's just working hard and trying to do my job."