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Brandon Browner, Ben Watson, Cam Jordan among Saints' captains

Saints tight end Benjamin Watson, who is seen as a mentor to many of the Saints' players, is a captain for the first time in his 12 NFL seasons. AP Photo/David Goldman

METAIRIE, La. – Cornerback Brandon Browner has been with the New Orleans Saints for less than six months, and tight end Benjamin Watson for less than three years. But the respect they have earned was evident when they were elected as captains this week.

Browner, Watson and defensive end Cameron Jordan were elected as first-time Saints captains, joining holdovers Drew Brees, Zach Strief and Thomas Morstead.

The Saints needed two new defensive captains this year after parting ways with both of their 2014 captains – linebackers Curtis Lofton and Junior Galette.

It’s no coincidence that Browner slid into the role because one of the reasons the Saints brought him in was to be a veteran leader for a defense that fractured both on and off the field last year. Browner, who won Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks over the past two years, hasn’t shied away from that leadership role, saying he knows that was part of the reason he was signed here.

“I think he has a huge voice on this team,” said Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro, who said Browner isn’t shy about calling people out when something needs to be said. “I think guys look up to him coming off of those back-to-back Super Bowl wins. He’s the oldest in our DB group. I don’t know, he just has that voice, that swagger, that demeanor about him that says he should be the captain.”

Jordan was a natural choice for the other defensive vacancy. He is now the longest-tenured Saints defensive player heading into his fifth season, and he is arguably the unit’s best player.

There were no surprises with Brees, Strief and Morstead, either.

Watson's selection was interesting because it meant naming a total of three offensive captains -- something the Saints had not done in the past.

Watson has quietly evolved into a role as resident mentor for younger players during his time in New Orleans. Several players have mentioned him over the years as a guy they lean on for advice or support – like a “big brother,” as receiver Brandin Cooks described it Thursday.

“Every one in this locker room, coaches included, staff members, respect a man like that,” Cooks said, joking that Watson needs a separate phone for mentoring. “The level of respect I have for him is tremendous.”

Watson, 34, said it was the first time he has been elected captain in his 12 NFL seasons, which made it extra special.

“I was very honored, think I was actually rendered speechless, just because it was a great honor to be selected by your teammates,” Watson said. “I’m happy that they see me in that light. I really was surprised by it, but I’m really thankful for the opportunity.”