Awards Watch (cont.)
Defensive Player of the Year
1. Albert Haynesworth, DT, Titans (1)
2. James Harrison, LB, Steelers (2): The energetic pass rusher wears down opponents with his relentless effort. Harrison's one-and-a half sack effort against the Redskins pushed his season total to 10, second-best among the league's top pass rushers.
3. Joey Porter, LB, Dolphins (5): The fiery leader of the Dolphins' defense has been a force off the edge. He registered at least a partial sack for the sixth week in a row; he's the league leader with 11.5 on the season.
4. Justin Tuck, DT, Giants (NR): The Giants' top pass rusher has been underappreciated for too long. After recording two and a half sacks against the Cowboys, Tuck ranks as the league's fourth-best sack artist (8.5).
5. Kris Jenkins, DT, Jets (NR): The three-time Pro Bowl tackle has single-handedly transformed the Jets' defense into a dominant unit. With Jenkins dominating the point of attack, the Jets have turned loose a vastly improved pass rush that is reminiscent of the "New York Sack Exchange" from the early '80s.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
1. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans (1): He has emerged as one of the league's top playmakers. Johnson's performance against the Packers showcased his outstanding versatility as a runner/receiver and helped the Titans remain the league's lone unbeaten squad.
2. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons (3): The Falcons have uncovered a rare franchise-type quarterback with Ryan. He has completed almost 59 percent of his passes and has a passer rating (85.4) that rivals Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger. With Ryan's career off to such a stellar start, league observers are comparing him to Peyton Manning at this stage of his career.
3. Matt Forte, RB, Bears (4): Fresh off the bye week, Forte re-establishes himself as one of the top runners in the game. His 641 rushing yards rank seventh in the league, and his 30 receptions are fourth-best among running backs.
4. DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles (2): Although the dynamic playmaker is seeing his opportunities shrink with the return of the team's starting receivers, Jackson speed and big-play ability add a different dimension to the Eagles' offense.
5. Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals (NR): The fifth-round pick had a stellar debut as a starter (22 carries for 109 yards and one score). His seven rushing touchdowns lead all rookies.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
1. Jerod Mayo, LB, Patriots (3): The league's top rookie tackler continues to be a factor in the middle of the Patriots' defense. His 11-tackle assault on the Colts didn't lead to a victory, but did push Mayo into the lead for this award.
2. Curtis Lofton, LB, Falcons (1): The budding star has been impressive. His five-tackle effort against the Raiders helped the team post its first shutout since 2002.
3. Chris Horton, S, Redskins (2): He continues to be a key contributor. His all-around versatility allows defensive coordinator Greg Blache the freedom to incorporate his safeties into the pressure package.
4. Chris Long, DE, Rams (4): The second overall pick is beginning to come into his own as a pass rusher. Though he failed to register a sack against the Cards, he leads all rookies with four sacks at the halfway mark.
5. Dwight Lowery, CB, Jets (NR): He has quietly held his own against some of the game's top receivers. His ability to man the corner in superb fashion has allowed the team to be more aggressive with its exotic blitzes.