Turns out expansion was. Philadelphia officially named nine captains on Tuesday with dynamic receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith added to the group of seven from last season.
A.J. and Smitty join fellow offensive captains: quarterback Jalen Hurts, center Jason Kelce, and right tackle Lane Johnson. The three defensive captains remain defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, defensive end Brandon Graham, and cornerback Darius Slay while kicker Jake Elliott again is the lone special teams captain.
Cox and Kelce have been named captains six times in Philadelphia, Graham is at five, Hurts at three and Johnson, Slay, and Elliott are in their second tenure as captains.
“It means a lot to me,” Graham said via the team’s website. “I take it seriously. When the guys vote for you, hell yeah it means a lot to me. It’s something that I’ve cherished since it started for me, being a captain.
“I try to lead by example and by just having the right attitude every day, keeping the guys up, always having a smile on my face. We have a lot of great energy with this team and I’m just trying to lead that way. Being a captain, yeah, it’s a big deal to me and I’m grateful for it.”
Head coach Nick Sirianni informed the team who the captains were during a team meeting last Thursday and the results came from a vote by the players themselves.
Last year, Slay was moved by the honor after being voted a team captain for the first time in his NFL career.
This year, Sirianni introduced the seven constants before unveiling that Brown and Smith were also awarded a ‘C.’
“It meant everything to me just to get the respect from your peers, your teammates, to know that you’re being watched and they value what you say and how you go about your day,” Brown said on the Eagles’ website. “For them to pick me as a captain tells me that they trust me. That means a lot to me.”
Brown also served as a sounding board for Smith, who is on the quiet side.
“DeVonta is the guy who doesn’t really talk as much but leads by example by how he works and I think those leaders are just as important,” Brown said. “He doesn’t have to say anything. He just lines up and goes to work. Those are really important leaders as well.”
Sirianni tends to enjoy giving out good news and the captains vote was no exception.
“Really happy for all the guys voted captain because it says so much about them and what their teammates think about them and just obviously get really excited for the guys that are going to wear the ‘C’ on their chest for the first time this year,” the coach said. “It didn’t surprise me at all because A.J. and DeVonta have special leadership qualities and play tremendous football and they lead in their own way.
“I’m just really happy for them. I’m really happy for all of them but the two new guys, really happy for them.”