- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Associated Press NFL awards will be announced tonight on CBS, and in that spirit, here is how we'd vote if we were using the same categories for a Patriots-specific team.
This ballot was put together with the assistance of a good pal, a.k.a. "Chris from Westwood," and was completed at our kids' morning swim class:
Patriots choice: 1. Tom Brady: 2. Vince Wilfork; 3. Wes Welker
NFL choice: 1. Adrian Peterson
Patriots quick-hit: Brady is the obvious choice, so we wanted to make a non-Brady category as well. On Wilfork, the point is this: "Once he landed that contract, he started running that defense. That is his defense. Without him, it's hard to imagine what things would look like." Hard to disagree.
Offensive player of the year
Patriots choice: 1. Brady; 2. Nate Solder; 3. Wes Welker; 4. Stevan Ridley
NFL choice: 1. Adrian Peterson
Patriots quick-hit: Again, Brady is the obvious choice, so we wanted to introduce some other options. I voted for Solder, with the idea that the transition from Matt Light to Solder was a huge preseason storyline and Solder went wire to wire and held his own protecting the blindside of the franchise quarterback. Chris liked Ridley -- "It's totally different having a running back who is explosive." Can't go wrong with Welker either.
Defensive player of the year
Patriots choice: 1. Vince Wilfork; 2. Aqib Talib; 3. Jerod Mayo
NFL choice: 1. J.J. Watt
Patriots quick-hit: Similar to Brady on offense, the decision was whether to come up with a non-Wilfork category. Talib got the nod, even in limited action. "His presence allowed everyone else to shift in the secondary."
Defensive rookie of the year
Patriots choice: 1. Alfonzo Dennard; 2. Chandler Jones; 3. Justin Francis
NFL choice: 1. Luke Kuechly
Patriots quick hit: Dennard missed the first four games due to injury, but was solid after that. Jones was a top candidate for the NFL award at midseason, but injuries contributed to a dip in the second half. Francis shows up on the radar based on emerging as a rookie free agent.
Offensive rookie of the year
Patriots choice: 1. Brandon Bolden
NFL choice: 1. Russell Wilson
Patriots quick-hit: Much like a political candidate running without competition on the ballot, Bolden was the lone rookie contributor on offense. He was coming on strong but a late-season suspension stunted his momentum.
Comeback player of the year
Patriots choice: 1. Devin McCourty; 2. Shane Vereen
NFL choice: 1a. Adrian Peterson; 1b. Peyton Manning
Patriots quick-hit: Remember all the questions about McCourty rebounding from a sophomore slump? His work at safety, after switching there midseason, helped solidify the secondary. Vereen was in the discussion as he "came back" from a quiet rookie season.
Coach of the Year (non-Belichick)
Patriots choice: 1. Dante Scarnecchia; 2. Ivan Fears
NFL choice: 1. Pete Carroll
Patriots quick-hit: Scarnecchia's work with the offensive line was solid, as usual, with a new left tackle integrated into the mix. Fears helped with the transition at the running back spot.