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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jameis Winston Among Bucs' Captains

A vote by the players resulted in four repeat team captains from 2015 – Lavonte David, Vincent Jackson, Gerald McCoy and Russell Shepard – and one newcomer in second-year QB Jameis Winston.

Jameis Winston was one of five players selected as a team captain for the 2016 season.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2016 team captains have a familiar look about them, with one very unsurprising addition.

Linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will be the captains on defense, just as they were in 2015. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson also repeats as an offensive captain while wide receiver Russell Shepard will serve as the special teams captain for a second straight year.

The one newcomer to the group is quarterback Jameis Winston, who assumes the captaincy vacated by the retired Logan Mankins. Winston gets the "C" on his jersey in just his second NFL season, but given his position and his natural adoption of a leadership role last year, that was not unexpected.

Head Coach Dirk Koetter revealed the five season-long captains on Monday but they were actually chosen by a vote among the players after the roster was trimmed to its current 53-player status. That makes the honor of being a team captain particularly satisfying for those chosen.

It's always an honor to be recognized by your peers. There's really nothing bigger than that, to be recognized by your peers as standing out as a leader. Not everybody's called to be that, but when you are I think it's right that you step up and be that. My teammates are recognizing me as that, so now it's my job to make that I don't disappoint them.

]( Bay will also have a sixth captain each week, chosen from among  the other 48 players and often based on that week's opponent. When the Buccaneers play their season opener in Atlanta on Sunday, the sixth captain will be former Falcon Joe Hawley.

A look at the members of the Buccaneers' 2016 practice squad.

Hawley was drafted by Atlanta in 2010 and he started 23 games at center from 2011-14. He was released by the Falcons right before the start of the regular season a year ago but quickly signed with the Buccaneers, where he was reunited with Koetter, his former offensive coordinator in Atlanta. After taking over the Bucs' starting center job in Week Three, Hawley quickly grew comfortable in his new NFL home, but the captain's role in Atlanta will still carry some meaning for him.

It's awesome, it means a lot to me," said Hawley. "Last year I came here on such short notice and I was really excited to go back [to Atlanta]. But having a whole offseason here, a whole season under my belt with all these guys, I really feel like part of a new team. We're just excited to get started. We've got a lot of talent on this team and I think we're going to shock a lot of people."

Shepard is in his fourth season with the Buccaneers after being acquired as a September waiver claim from Philadelphia in 2013. He has since emerged as one of the best special teams players in the league, which his teammates recognized last year when he was first named captain. Shepard said his mother did not initially know what the "C" on his jersey meant when she saw him play, but that should no longer be an issue in his second year as a captain.

"That's one of the biggest honors you can get in this league," he said. "It's truly your peers, the guys that you come here and work with every day, the guys you admire, the guys you look up to. It's really an honor. It's an amazing opportunity and I'm thankful for it."

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