A.J. Klein has taken over for middle linebacker Luke Kuechly the past three games following Kuechly's Week 1 concussion at Jacksonville.
On Sunday at Tampa Bay, Klein assumed another role: Team captain.
Klein wore the 'C' on his jersey and joined the other captains at midfield for the pre-game coin toss. He said Panthers coach Ron Rivera approached him after Friday's practice and told him the news.
With Kuechly and defensive end Charles Johnson (hamstring) both out, Rivera wanted another defensive captain in addition to veteran linebacker Thomas Davis. Klein said he's not sure if his captaincy will be for the season.
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"I definitely take a lot of pride in it. I obviously thanked coach for the opportunity to represent the defense as a captain," Klein said. "I take it very personally. I take a lot of pride in it. Just really thankful for that opportunity and we'll see what happens going forward."
Klein had seven tackles against the Buccaneers, while Davis had a game-high 11 stops and one of four interceptions of rookie quarterback Jameis Winston.