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Patriots 2011 captains named

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots have selected their 2011 captains through a player vote. The captains are:

QB Tom Brady

OL Logan Mankins

WR Matthew Slater

LB Jerod Mayo

DL Vince Wilfork

CB Devin McCourty

The captains were a big topic of discussion in the locker room today, with Mayo, Slater and McCourty among those speaking with reporters. It was clear how much it meant to Slater, the fourth-year player who has carved out his niche on special teams.

"I'll be honest, it's probably the highest point of my career," he said. "The guys that you grind with, to have the respect of those guys, that's really all you care about. It really means a lot to me."

McCourty admitted he was surprised to earn the captain's title in just his second season, but he hoped to lead by example on the field.

"When your teammates vote for you, it shows how much they believe in you," said McCourty ."It shows how much they are behind you as a leader. I think it's important to me to just try to continue to do what I've been doing.

"[Veteran players] have come up to me and told me, 'Just continue being who you are,' and 'Keep going out there trying to make plays, be a good player, lead guys, and get the younger guys going, show them the right direction.'"

Mayo said any young captain has earned the honor by his play on the field. As for the role of the captain, Mayo said he approaches it like a coach.

"It means leading by example and making sure everyone's doing the right thing," said Mayo. "The coaches can't be here all the time. I feel like that's [a captain's] responsibility [to lead when the coach's are not around.]"