The Colts on Wednesday announced seven team captains for the 2022 season: defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, linebacker Zaire Franklin, linebacker Shaquille Leonard, left guard Quinton Nelson, quarterback Kenny Moore, quarterback Matt Ryan and linebacker Jonathan Taylor.
All seven players are widely respected for their influence on and off the field, and have been voted as captain by their teammates. Here’s a little about each captain:
Years as captain: 4 (2018-2019 w/49ers, 2021-2022 w/Colts)
Buckner has had a constant presence at the Colts’ “Breakfast Club” – a group of players who arrive at the football center of the Indiana ranch office early in the morning for a lift – and are seen by a young defensive line for leadership. Buckner also bought his motorized defensive teammates last year to help get around the training camp — which he, Grover Stewart and Tyquan Lewis used every day at Grand Park this summer.
“I think (leadership) comes naturally,” Buchner said. “You can’t force anything you’re not into, just because I know what kind of role I’m supposed to play, don’t get out of your way, you have to do this, you have to do that. I’m just an open book.” It doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re a team member, if you’re new to the team, if we just picked you this week, I’ll always be there to be an open book.”
Years as Captain: 3 (2020-2022 w/Colts)
Franklin has grown from a seventh-round pick to a key special team player, a key defensive contributor and one of the most respected voices in the Colts’ locker room over the past five seasons. It’s a role he has embraced, and he deeply appreciates the opportunity to be one of the players his teammates look up to both on and off the field.
“I hold myself to such a high level of accountability, and I don’t think I would ask or demand something from someone that I wouldn’t ask of myself, and they wouldn’t see me do or endure every day,” Franklin said. “And I think of leadership as a servant. Once you decide that you want leadership and you want to be the man up front, you let go of yourself and your whole mindset is making sure the people around you are successful, and what you can do to touch the people around you every day and the people you work With them.
“I think for me in terms of leadership, it’s always trying to help get the best out of the guys around me. Whether that’s setting an example for me, whether that’s an encouraging word when you need it, and whether that’s tough love when you need it.” to it when no one else is willing to give it to you. It’s something I always take personally because being a teammate is my favorite part of being in the league and playing football in general.”
Years as Captain: 4 (2019-2022 w/Colts)
Leonard’s combination of energy and game-making ability made him not only one of the The best players in the NFLBut he is one of the best pony leaders. It’s impossible to miss the juice Leonard brings, whether it’s conserving energy in practice, punching the ball or dancing on the sidelines as Jonathan Taylor hits the 70-yard run.
“He is a unique player and a unique leader,” said coach Frank Reich. “He’s our emotional leader. We have a lot of great leaders. I think Shaq is an emotional leader for us, and a game industry leader for us. It feels like that, and it’s great to host him. It’s a great time.”
Years as captain: 1 (2022 w/Colts)
Moore was named a Pro Bowler for the first time in his career last season, and was also Colts nominee Walter Payton’s Man of the Year. His tireless journey from being an unoccupied free agent ceded by the New England Patriots to becoming one of the The best players in the NFL He earned the respect of his teammates. And the work he did in the Indianapolis community as he developed his profile in the field only added to that respect.
“I would say just by how consistent he is in every field, not only does he embody Walter Payton on his work ethic and produce in the field, but Kenny is one of those people who truly embrace the community he serves,” Franklin said. “He really impacts this Indianapolis community and his relationship and relationship with Mason (Garvey) is just a perfect example of how he’s perfectly adapted to his environment and tried to give everything he is to the community.”
Years as Captain: 2 (2021-2022 w/Colts)
During last year’s “Hard Knocks: In Season” series, HBO cameras caught Nelson asking Reich to go with a “live call” at the team’s Week 12 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Reich said he’s not considering vetoing that clip of the run, because it showed not just how the Colts work — but what kind of leader Nelson is.
“It was a natural leadership role for Quinton,” Reich said.
Nelson has helped build a high profile on and off the field for the Colts attack line since joining the team in 2018, helping push young players and new faces to play “five as one”.
“Everyone knows how great he is, but I think what makes Quinton special is how smart he is and how instinctive he is,” Reich said. “I think that’s what makes his game over the top. He’s a physically dominant player, but it’s his instincts and intelligence that takes him I think to another level. During a game, he’s one of those guys where if he says, ‘Hey, that’s what I see and feel,'” Over the years, you go back and look at the tape and he’s always right as far as he sees and feels. So, you trust him.”
Years as captain*: 7 (2014-2015, 2018-2021 w/Falcons, 2022 w/Colts)
Ryan’s impact on the Colts since his arrival in Indianapolis this spring has been as broad as it has been profound. Ask anyone at the team facility on 56th Street about Ryan’s drive and you’ll get this answer: “You can just Feel on him ” The sense of urgency brought by the 14-year-old veteran The team produced high-quality, efficient work in preparation for the inaugural Sunday season against the Houston Texans.
“You can feel it,” said general manager Chris Ballard. “He has an urgent need; he has expectations not only of himself but of others. It’s hard to ask too much of others if you don’t set them yourself, which he does. Truly, a special leader, a special leader, and a special leader man. It’s so lucky to have you.”
*These are the years the Falcons were announced as the full season leaders; Ryan has often been the Game Week captain in other years.
Years as captain: 1 (2022 w/Colts)
It’s not just that Taylor led the NFL in a 500-yard dash in 2021 and was recognized by his peers as Fifth best player in the NFL last month. Taylor’s dedication to taking care of his body and “pre-treatment,” as he calls it, impressed his veteran teammates. And he does everything else that comes by running backwards – like a pass – at a high level when he runs the ball.
“He’s an absolute beast,” Ryan said upon arriving in Indianapolis in March. “When I was in Atlanta last year, we played with Buffalo late in the season so we warmed up for them, and we watched one of the games that Indy played against them. I was like a guy, they ran the ball really well against a good defense. So let me see more, “Maybe I see what they’re doing in attack because in the middle of the season, you guys have been rolling in here. I had the chance to peek at what he did last year and he’s special. Really I think he’s special.”
“I think he runs the ball very well, he has great vision, great balance, good speed, good strength, picks up the ball well from the field, and is ready to protect against passes. I had lunch with Quinton (Nelson) and Ryan Kelly today and they talk about how willing and smart he is. In protecting passes. You’ve been through so long, you can’t get a comeback doing all that so often and when they do, it’s a game-changer. So I’m caught up to play with him. I really am.”