EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When Joe Judge gathered his players together late Monday afternoon, he spoke to them about their just-completed practice, the schedule for the rest of the week – and who they had voted to be their captains on the 2021 Giants.
Seven players will represent the team as captains: quarterback Daniel Jones, running back Saquon Barkley, center Nick Gates, linebacker Blake Martinez, safeties Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan, and kicker Graham Gano.
"To me, the important thing for a captain is they've got to set the tone for the team in how they work, how they perform, and also how to put the team first," Judge said. "They have to be the example of the most unselfish players on the team. The other important role for captains in any locker room is they've got to be the voice of the team directly to the head coach. So, if there's an issue, or if there's something that needs to be addressed, they've got to be someone who the team trusts to speak for them on their behalf and make sure that the issue is getting addressed. It's important that these guys are good players who put the team first, and also have good communication as well and are not afraid to speak their mind."
Barkley is a third-year captain; Jones, Martinez and Peppers were selected for a second season; and Gates, Ryan and Gano received the honor for the first time.
Martinez, Ryan and Gano joined the Giants last year.
The seven captains match the 2019 team for the Giants' highest number since they began selecting season-long captains in 2007.
"They're players who demonstrate on a daily basis how they put the team first," Judge said. "They're obviously good players and they've earned the respect of their teammates."
View photos of the New York Giants' active 53-man roster as it currently stands heading into Week 1.
Jones, like Barkley in 2019, was first selected to be a captain in his second season. This is the 15th consecutive season the Giants' starting quarterback will serve as a captain. Eli Manning held the honor for 13 years.
Barkley was a repeat selection despite being limited to two games last season after suffering a serious knee injury in Week 2. He is the only running back to be a captain since 2007.
Gates is entering his fourth season in the NFL and with the Giants. The team's center, he joined Martinez among the five Giants who started all 16 games last season.
Martinez led the Giants and was third in the NFL with 151 tackles (86 solo), the fourth consecutive season he tallied at least 147 tackles. He also had 3.0 sacks, nine tackles for loss, six quarterback hits, one interception, five passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Peppers played in 15 games with 14 starts and finished with career-high totals of 89 tackles (third on the Giants, including a career-best 57 solo), eight tackles for loss, 11 passes defensed, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He also led the Giants with 15 punt returns for 187 yards, a career-high 12.5-yard average.
Ryan joined the Giants as a free agent on Sept. 4, 2020, and quickly became both a productive player and a team leader. A cornerback for most of his career, Ryan made 13 of his 15 starts at safety. He was second on the team with 92 tackles (67 solo) and had 1.0 sack, one interception and nine passes defensed. Ryan's three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries (the first of his career) were team-leading figures.
Gano had one of the finest seasons by a kicker in Giants history by making 31 of 32 field goal attempts, a .9687 percentage that is the second highest in team history. Gano had the highest success rate among the 21 NFL kickers who attempted at least 25 field goals in 2020. Gano's only miss was on a 57-yard try at Chicago. After the miss, he made his next 30 field goal attempts, the longest streak in Giants history. Gano will carry his streak into the 2021 season.
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