The Colts announced Wednesday defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, linebacker Zaire Franklin, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, linebacker Darius Leonard, left guard Quenton Nelson and quarterback Carson Wentz will be their 2021 team captains.
All six players are widely respected for their impact on and off the field, and were voted to be captains by their teammates. Here's a little about each captain:
Years as captain: 3 (2018-2019 w/49ers, 2021 w/Colts)
"I can't say enough good things about Buckner," general manager Chris Ballard said. "What luck? Really. What luck? Human being, leader, worker, player – I mean, everything. All of it. All of it. We're here in Indy, but this guy is as good as any defensive player in the National Football League. I mean, he's good and he stands for all the right things.
"It's been fun to watch him really take that room over. That's a young room. That's a young room. Buck is not old and Grover (Stewart) is not. These are young guys, but that room is young. Buck has been tremendous."
Years as captain: 2 (2020-2021 w/Colts)
No player has played more special teams snaps in the last two seasons for the Colts than Franklin's 700, and he's worked his way into having an opportunity for an increased role on defense as the top Sam linebacker in Matt Eberflus' base 4-3 front. But Franklin's dedication to special teams is something that's permeated the entire roster, leading the way for younger players to embrace their jobs in that phase.
"I just feel like that's just part of being a professional," Franklin said last year. "Obviously, everybody on our special teams unit believes that we are, given the right opportunity, we are elite linebackers in the league. I know I am a starter in the NFL. I know T.J. (Carrie) knows he's a starter at corner. From E.J. (Speed) – all other different guys who are our main contributors, but when you're on a great team like we have, you have to contribute and find ways to help the team win. When you're in certain situations, certain roles are given to you from the team and you just have to do your best to maximize your opportunities.
"I feel like just with special teams it's just, you can't take for granted the blessing that you get to play an NFL snap. Just because you play on special teams – some guys are inactive, some guys are practice squad or whatever. Whatever opportunity you have on the NFL stage, you have to let it be known that you are an elite player and you can just take advantage of whatever role you're given."
Years as captain: 3 (2019-2021 w/Colts)
Coach Frank Reich said Hilton is an "incredibly unselfish player" while explaining how that helps the Colts' offensive philosophy in a Q&A with Colts.com earlier this year:
"We're going to spread the ball around. That's what we do. So we got a lot of superstar players in here but we're interested in getting superstar production, but we can get that a lot of different ways because we got a lot of great players in here. So I'm not interested in building anybody's personal stat line. I know it's going to come. I know there's numbers everybody wants to hit and I want you to hit those numbers too. But the way we do it here is we spread it around.
"And T.Y. leads the way. He leads the way with that and you know it's genuine."
Years as captain: 3 (2019-2021 w/Colts)
Leonard's energy is impossible to miss around the Colts' facility and on gamedays, and his leadership entering his fourth year in Indianapolis is one of the most important aspects to this team's success.
"(He's) the leader of our defense, a cornerstone of our defense and this team," Reich said. "A great leader, as we all know, Darius brings the juice to another level. He's a playmaker at another level. We think he is tops in the league at what he does."
And, added Bobby Okereke: "He brings intensity, he brings juice every day."
Years as captain: 1 (2021 w/Colts)
"As far as leadership and the type of team guy he is, it's off the charts," Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay said. "He is why the Colts are a physical team. When you're coming to play us, you are coming to play the Big-Q and he is the guy that represents us out there and everyone on this roster knows. He is the alpha male holding it down now. That is a tough guy.
"His talents are just remarkable. If he stays healthy, he may be 14 All-Pro years in a row."
Years as captain: 5 (2017-2020 w/Eagles, 2021 w/Colts)
"He's very well spoken, he speaks up in the meeting rooms, he speaks up on the fields," offensive coordinator Marcus Brady said. "He's a very positive guy, so he's easy to get along with. He's shown that throughout the spring and the guys just kind of tend to him."
"The guy works really, really hard," Reich said in May. "I've been really thankful. The quarterbacks I've worked with – I mean some of the hardest workers on the teams, so Carson is no exception to that. Then just his natural leadership ability, taking over to, 'Hey guys, let's get together and throw.' That's our team, that's our guys."