NEW YORK — Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy and Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson won The Associated Press NFL awards as the top rookies for 2013.
They were the first two award winners during Saturday night’s NFL Honors show.
A second-round pick (61st overall) from Alabama, Lacy was a key performer in the Packers’ offense, particularly when star quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sidelined for seven games. The former Dutchtown High School star rushed for 1,178 yards on 284 carries (4.1 average), with 11 touchdowns. He also had 35 receptions.
That was good enough for 35 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league.
“I’m comfortable where I am, and my teammates believe in me, and they make me feel comfortable, so I’m able to play the way I’m capable of playing,” said Lacy, who beat out San Diego wide receiver Keenan Allen, who received 12 votes.
Richardson, the 13th overall pick in April’s draft on a selection acquired when New York traded star cornerback Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay, won a close race over Buffalo linebacker Kiko Alonso. Richardson received 23 votes; Alonso, a second-round choice (46th overall), got 19 in balloting announced Saturday night.
Often double-teamed as the season wore on, Richardson made 42 tackles and had 3½ sacks. He clogged the running lanes so effectively that the Jets ranked third against the run this season.
Carolina’s Rivera top coach
NEW YORK — Ron Rivera took the Carolina Panthers from also-ran to division champion this season, earning him The Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year award.
Rivera’s Panthers went 12-4 to take the NFC South and get a first-round playoff bye. They lost to San Francisco in the divisional round.
Rivera’s fine work in his third season in charge in Carolina brought him 21½ votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league.
That outdistanced Kansas City’s Andy Reid, who got 13½ votes. In his first year with the Chiefs, Reid took them from 2-14 to 11-5 and an AFC wild-card berth.
Rivera is the second Panthers coach to win the award. Dom Capers was AP Coach of the Year in 1996, Carolina’s second season in the NFL.
Rivers Comeback Player
NEW YORK — Philip Rivers’ turnaround season has earned him The Associated Press NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.
Rivers led the San Diego Chargers to a wild-card playoff spot with four straight victories to close out the schedule, giving them a 9-7 record. He led the league with a 69.5 completion percentage and threw for 32 TDs against 11 interceptions.
He received 13 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. The balloting announced Saturday night was so widespread that 12 players got votes.
Finishing behind Rivers were Denver running back Knowshon Moreno and Philadelphia left tackle Jason Peters with eight selections apiece. Tampa Bay cornerback Darrelle Revis got six votes.
Rivers is the second Chargers quarterback to win the award; the man he replaced, Drew Brees, won in 2004.