EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings have announced eight players will be season-long captains for 2021.
The group includes four players who were previously captains, plus four players who will be in that role for the first time as Vikings. The group is split up with five offensive players and three from the defense.
Here is who will be donning the "C" for the Vikings this season (players listed alphabetically):
Barr has been a captain in previous years, and his presence was missed in 2020 when he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 2. The four-time Pro Bowl linebacker is currently dealing with an undisclosed injury, but the team remains optimistic he can return early this season, if not for Sunday's season opener.
Cook will be a captain for the second straight year, being viewed as one of the key leaders on the team. His play speaks for itself, as the running back has made back-to-back Pro Bowls and has established himself as a top player at his position across the league. Cook's energy and impact are felt in the locker room, too, where he's one of the team's most likable players.
Cousins is entering his fourth season in Purple, and 2021 will be his fourth as a captain. Teammates routinely look to the quarterback to get them going in tough spots, and Cousins will be asked to do that again. He was a Pro Bowler in 2019 and is usually in the top third in the league in key quarterback stats.
One of the most popular players on the roster, the fullback who gladly does the dirty work is a first-time captain. A Pro Bowl selection in 2019, Ham is a key part of Minnesota's strong running game as he opens lanes for Cook. Off the field, Ham seemingly greets everyone with a smile.
View the best photos of Vikings FB C.J. Ham from the 2020 season.
O'Neill, who recently signed a multiyear contract extension, is the lone captain along the offensive line as he takes over a role that Riley Reiff held in previous years. This will be O'Neill's first time as a captain, as he'll be tasked with helping lead a young group that has plenty of potential. A 2018 second-round pick, O'Neill has developed into the Vikings best lineman.
This isn't Peterson's first time being a captain, as he previously held that distinction for numerous seasons in Arizona (2013; 2015-18). But the first-year Vikings cornerback quickly won over his teammates and coaches with his steady play on the field coupled with a veteran demeanor off of it. Peterson is 31 years old with plenty of NFL experience, and he'll be counted on in a big way this season.
Smith was recently rewarded with a multiyear contract extension as he enters his 10th season in Purple. He'll be a captain for the second straight season, too. The safety isn't the most vocal player, but he leads by example and has done so for 130 games for the organization.
Thielen is a first-time captain, adding another impressive feat in his journey from undrafted rookie free agent to All-Pro receiver. A Minnesota native (did you know he's from Detroit Lakes?), Thielen has evolved into one of the NFL's most consistent players. He recorded 14 touchdown catches in 2020, which was the fifth-most in a season in team history. He also brings plenty of passion to the squad, as fewer players enjoy the day-to-day grind more than him.