The Cincinnati Bengals have named their 2016 team captains, according to Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson.
For the offense, it will be quarterback Andy Dalton and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. On defense, it will be defensive tackle Domata Peko, defensive end Michael Johnson and cornerback Adam Jones.
Linebacker Vinny Rey will be the special teams captain. None of these captains come as a surprise, though Johnson and Jones received this honor for the first time in their NFL careers.
Johnson, now entering his eighth season, was a productive member of the Bengals’ defensive line in his return season last year. He racked up five sacks and three forced fumbles while battling through a nagging back injury last year following recovery from his training camp knee injury. He’s healthy this preseason and it’s been showing with his high level of play.
Jones, now entering his 10th season, was one of the top corners to hit the free agent market this offseason, but opted to re-sign with the franchise where he's had his greatest success. In 2015, Jones had 62 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, 12 passes defended and three interceptions in 14 games played.
During his six-year career with the Bengals, Jones has compiled 263 tackles, two sacks, 53 passes defended, 10 interceptions, four forced fumbles, 1,265 yards on kick returns and 933 yards on punt returns. He's also had three touchdowns: One from a forced fumble, one from an interception and one from a punt return. It’s an interesting decision to see Jones as a captain and hopefully his play will reflect that decision.
Peko, now entering his 11th NFL season, will once again be the full-time starting nose tackle for a Cincinnati defense that is projected to be a top-10 unit. Peko is a mammoth in the middle who consistently eats up blockers, which allows guys like Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson to get favorable matchups and destroy offensive game plans.
That kind of dirty work is why you’ll rarely see Peko make an impact in the box score. As long as the other three defensive linemen are producing, there’s a good chance Peko is helping that effort. Peko also leads all NFL defensive tackles with 96 straight starts.
Whitworth, who is now entering his 11th NFL season, started every game last season at left tackle and was a major contributor to Cincinnati ranking seventh in the NFL in scoring (26.2 points per game). Whitworth also leads the Cincinnati roster in career games played as a Bengal (157) and starts (153).
Whit has been one of the NFL's best blindside protectors for much of his career, and this is a well-deserved honor. In recapping his other awards. Whitworth was honored with an AP First-Team All-Pro selection, earned a Pro Bowl berth and was on the PFWA All-AFC Team.
Rey, who’s entering his seventh NFL season, has been with the Bengals since signing as an undrafted free agent out of Duke following the 2010 NFL Draft. After beginning his career on the practice squad, Rey made it onto the 53-man roster late in the 2010 season before becoming the special teams captain, a role he's held for much of his career in stripes.
Over the past two seasons, Rey has appeared in 32 games (21 starts) and made 219 tackles and 10 pass deflections. He started eight games this past season while making 98 tackles in 16 games and was the Bengals' leading tackler on the season for the second straight year.
As for Dalton, now entering his sixth season, he's coming off a career year in which he threw for 25 touchdowns and 3,250 yards vs just seven interceptions, good for a career-high 106.3 passer rating. He set career highs in QB Rating (106.3), yards per attempt (8.42), completion percent (66.1%), had the NFL's eighth-best completion percentage, second-best yards-per-attempt average, second-highest passer rating, and fifth-best QBR.
All six captains more than earned this honor as they look to help guide another talented Bengals team into the postseason and beyond.