The Carolina Panthers voted quarterback Cam Newton a team captain for the first time in his brief NFL career.

That is significant for the first pick of the 2011 draft and former Heisman Trophy winner because his leadership has been in question throughout the preseason. Newton was not available for comment before Thursday's practice but he addressed the possibility of being a captain last month at training camp in Spartanburg S.C.

"I recognize and everyone knows around the league when you're a team captain that's not just a patch on the jersey" Newton said. "You're holding yourself to a higher standard with being accountable. I'm going about it each and every day and trying to make that happen."

Coach Ron Rivera revealed his captains before practice after toying with reporters that "it's a secret." The other five are wide receiver Steve Smith left tackle Jordan Gross center Ryan Kalil linebacker Thomas Davis and linebacker Luke Kuechly.

Rivera said he told the players Gross and Smith were "team captain emeritus'' meaning they were automatically captains and there were only four open votes.