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."

NFL Notes: NFL looking to speed up games via officiating and breaks

NFL Notes: NFL looking to speed up games via officiating and breaks

NEW YORK -- The NFL is making plans to speed up the pace of games, including changing how video replays are handled and using a time clock for extra points.

The league also is discussing with the TV networks how to make commercial breaks less intrusive.

For officiating replays, the referee no longer would go under a hood to watch a play. Instead, a tablet will be brought to him on the field and he will consult with league headquarters in New York. The final call will be made in New York.

Support by 75 percent of the 32 team owners would be needed at next week's annual meetings for passage of the proposal.

In addition to a time clock for PATs when there is no TV break, the league is considering instituting a play clock after a touchdown.

Also, to improve the flow of games on the field and for television audiences, commercial breaks would be reduced from 21 per game to 16, although each would last 30 seconds longer.

Giants: RB Shaun Draughn signs
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants have signed veteran running back Shaun Draughn.

The Giants announced the signing Wednesday, a little more than a month after releasing veteran Rashad Jennings in a salary cap move.

Draughn has played for six teams in six years, most recently the San Francisco 49ers. He has played in 57 games with seven starts. His career totals include 225 carries for 723 yards and seven touchdowns, plus 80 receptions for 597 yards and two scores. He also has 17 special teams tackles.

Draughn says the Giants were interested in his versatility. He says: "I don't know exactly how they'll use me. I'm sure they'll use me to the strengths that I have."

Draughn played in all 16 games last season with one start for the 49ers. He scored a career-high four touchdowns while rushing for 194 yards on 74 carries. Draughn also had career-best totals of 29 catches for 263 yards and two touchdowns.

He joins a backfield that includes second-year pro Paul Perkins, the team's top returning rusher, Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen.

Bengals: 'Pacman' Jones faces misdemeanor charges
CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones faces three misdemeanor charges, including assault, but no longer is charged with a felony.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters (DEE'-turs) announced Wednesday that a felony charge of harassment with a bodily substance was dismissed at the prosecuting attorney's request.

Deters said the misdemeanors also include disorderly conduct and obstructing official business.

The 33-year-old veteran whose career has been marked by off-the-field legal issues was jailed Jan. 3 after a confrontation with a hotel security employee was followed by a struggle with Cincinnati police and a sheriff's office report Jones spit on a nurse's hand.

Deters says the criminal charge won't be pursued, given that the nurse has been pursuing a possible civil remedy.

A Bengals spokesman said the team has no comment.

Two Eagles question why Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned

Two Eagles question why Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned

Two weeks into NFL free agency and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains available. He decided to test the market in free agency after not picking up the player option on his contract.

While there's still a chance Kaepernick gets signed, a couple of Eagles players are pointing out that some of the quarterbacks to get contracts recently aren't as good.   

On Monday, Geno Smith signed with the Giants, Josh McCown signed with the Jets and E.J. Manuel signed with the Raiders.

Kaepernick has a better record and completion percentage than those three quarterbacks. He's also second in touchdown passes, trailing only McCown by seven, 79-72, despite playing nine fewer seasons.

So, why aren't teams giving the quarterback who nearly won the Super Bowl against the Ravens in 2013 a chance?

It could be because of his protest of the national anthem last season.

According to Bleacher Report, about 20 percent of teams around the league believe he can play, but the others are simply using showing no interest as punishment for his protest:

"He can still play at a high level," one AFC general manager said. "The problem is three things are happening with him.

"First, some teams genuinely believe that he can't play. They think he's shot. I'd put that number around 20 percent.

"Second, some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him. They think there might be protests or [President Donald] Trump will tweet about the team. I'd say that number is around 10 percent. Then there's another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.

"Third, the rest genuinely hate him and can't stand what he did [kneeling for the national anthem]. They want nothing to do with him. They won't move on. They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did."

And of course, President Donald Trump chimed in on Kaepernick's status in free agency.

Last year, Trump commented on Kaepernick's decision not to stand for the national anthem saying, ​"maybe he should find a country that works better for him."