Falcons' Matt Ryan wins MVP; Cowboys' Dak Prescott Rookie of the Year

Falcons' Matt Ryan wins MVP; Cowboys' Dak Prescott Rookie of the Year

HOUSTON -- Matt Ryan and the Dallas Cowboys were big winners Saturday night.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback was voted The Associated Press 2016 NFL's Most Valuable Player and top offensive player. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott took Offensive Rookie of the Year and Jason Garrett was selected Coach of the Year by a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league.

On the eve of the Super Bowl in which he will face off with two-time league MVP Tom Brady, who finished second in this year's balloting, Ryan easily outdistanced Brady 25-10 for MVP. He beat Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers 15 to 11 for Offensive Player of the Year.

Ryan, of course, was not on hand at the "NFL Honors" TV show. But in a taped acceptance speech, he said:

"I just want to say thank you. This is an incredible honor for me. Obviously, there are so many other great candidates and players who had amazing seasons.

"I want to thank all my teammates. Obviously, without them, none of this is possible. We've had so many guys on our team make great plays and have great seasons for us, so thank you to those guys."

Garrett drew 25 votes for best coach, beating out New England's Bill Belichick (14).

"This is an extension of our football team and I really accept it on their behalf," said Garrett, who took over as Dallas coach in 2010. "I coach with some really great guys and I'm really fortunate to coach with so many great players that go about it the right way, and it's really just an extension of that. It's a team award."

Prescott, in a two-man race with his running back, Ezekiel Elliott, won 28 to 21. The QB brought the RB onstage to share in his special moment.

"He deserves it just as much as I do from his yards, his catches," Prescott said. "The way we handled things in the backfield is always together."

Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, apparently headed to San Francisco after the Super Bowl to be head coach of the 49ers, took the assistant coaching award.

Packers receiver Jordy Nelson , returning from a devastating knee injury, was selected Comeback Player of the Year.

Oakland edge rusher Khalil Mack slipped past 2016 Super Bowl MVP linebacker Von Miller for Defensive Player of the Year, 18-17.

San Diego lineman Joey Bosa won top defensive rookie honors in a landslide.

"I don't really set goals like this for myself very often, awards," said Bosa, who missed the first four games after a holdout. "But I definitely wanted this one. I'm really happy I got it done."

Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Giants quarterback Eli Manning shared the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

"Quite simply this is the most meaningful honor an NFL player can receive, and I am flattered beyond words that the selection committee deemed me worthy of it," Fitzgerald said. "More than anything it is a reflection on my parents whose words and example taught my brother and me the value of service and the importance of giving back."

Manning called it "an honor to be mentioned in the same breath with Walter Payton."

"None of us do what we do on behalf of charity or in our communities to get recognized," Manning added. "We do it because we truly care. You want to make a difference in people's lives and in our communities. But to be recognized and know that people do notice your work is nice."

Eagles 2017 training camp position battle: Safety

Eagles 2017 training camp position battle: Safety

We went through the cornerbacks Thursday and that position is clearly much more of a mess than safety (see story).
 
In fact, the Eagles have a really good starting safety duo in Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod.
 
But over the last couple of years, the Eagles have used Jenkins as their slot cornerback in the nickel package. It's a position that Jenkins really enjoys playing — he loves being closer to the action. Except whenever Jenkins plays up as the slot corner, the team is forced to bring an extra safety off the bench.
 
Last season, that extra safety was Jaylen Watkins. When Jenkins moved up, Watkins would take the field. A former fourth-rounder from Florida, Watkins ended up playing 38 percent of the team's defensive snaps in 2016. That's a heckuva lot, especially considering that Jenkins and McLeod, the two guys ahead of him, missed a combined seven snaps.
 
Watkins beat out Chris Maragos for that third safety spot in 2016. The Eagles seem happy letting Maragos focus on being the all-time great special teams force he's been since coming to Philadelphia.
 
So Watkins is the incumbent fighting for that third safety job, but the other guy was with the Eagles last year, too.
 
The Eagles claimed Terrence Brooks off waivers from the Ravens just before the opener in 2016. Brooks played in 11 games but was primarily a special teams player. He played just three defensive snaps (but he did pull in his first career interception on that late bomb against the Giants in Week 16). The only reason Brooks got on the field in that game was because Watkins suffered a concussion.
 
While Brooks never really made it with Baltimore, the Ravens did draft him in the third round out of Florida State in 2014. That rookie year, he played 234 snaps before tearing his ACL. He played minimally in 2015 and was cut before last season began.
 
With a full offseason, Brooks ought to have a much better grasp of the Eagles' defense, and Watkins certainly didn't play well enough to be handed that third safety job again.
 
So while safety might seem like a secure position, it'll be one to watch this summer.

NFL Notes: Dez Bryant throws huge BBQ, then reportedly late for camp

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NFL Notes: Dez Bryant throws huge BBQ, then reportedly late for camp

LUFKIN, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant returned to his East Texas hometown to thank supporters with free barbecue that drew several thousand fans to a park.

Bryant was in Lufkin on Thursday afternoon for the outdoor event that included games and a chance to meet the NFL star as temperatures reached the 90s. Lufkin police spokeswoman Jessica Pebsworth on Friday estimated the crowd at about 3,000 and said two people were treated for heat exhaustion.

Pebsworth says everyone was excited to see Bryant and he was a great host.

Bryant says he decided a couple of days earlier to throw the catered event in Lufkin, a city of about 36,000 located 110 miles (177 kilometers) northeast of Houston.

The Cowboys open camp next week in Oxnard, California.

However, it appears that generosity caused Bryant to be a bit tardy. According to ESPN’s Todd Archer, Bryant was late on Friday to report for camp with the Cowboys’ other veterans.

Bengals: Jones suspended 1 game for altercation
CINCINNATI -- Bengals cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones has been suspended for the regular-season opener against Baltimore for his role in an altercation at a downtown hotel earlier this year.

Jones had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge stemming from the January incident, the latest in a history of off-the-field legal issues for the NFL veteran. The NFL said Friday that the suspension was for a violation of its personal conduct policy.

Police said Jones kicked and used head-butting as he was arrested for allegedly assaulting a hotel employee. He was arrested outside the hotel, and police video showed him protesting that he hadn't done anything to deserve it, loudly demanding, "Let me go!" and at times struggling with officers while yelling obscene insults. Video of Jones in the back of a police cruiser at one point showed him telling an officer: "I hope you die tomorrow."

Jones apologized in court for his behavior and specifically to Cincinnati police Sgt. Jarrod Cotton. His attorneys said he had been receiving treatment, including for anger management (see full story).

Chiefs: QB Mahomes inks rookie deal
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chiefs have signed quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a four-year rookie contract.

Kansas City traded its first- and third-round picks this year and its first-round pick next year to the Buffalo Bills to grab the Texas Tech quarterback with the 10th overall selection.

It was the first time Kansas City had taken a quarterback in the first round since Todd Blackledge in 1983.

The Chiefs sent the No. 27 and No. 91 overall picks in this year's draft to Buffalo in order to acquire a successor to Alex Smith. The veteran starter has two years remaining on his contract, though Smith becomes inexpensive to release after next season.

Jets: Top pick Adams signs 4-year contract
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets on Friday signed safety Jamal Adams of LSU, the sixth overall pick in the draft.

Adams gets a four-year deal worth about $22 million. As with all first-round contracts under the current labor agreement, the Jets have a fifth-year option.

All nine of the Jets' selections in April's draft have signed.

A versatile defender, Adams had one interception and four passes defensed as a junior last season, committing zero penalties as he rarely was thrown at. For his three seasons at the school, he played in 37 games (26 starts) with five interceptions, 14 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one recovery, 209 tackles and 17 1-2 tackles for loss.

Adams is expected to be a starter this season for the rebuilding Jets.