Fans To Vote For Winner On NFL.com/rookies
The National Football League announced the five finalists for the 2009 NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award.
2009 NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
JAIRUS BYRD, Safety, Buffalo Bills
BRIAN CUSHING, Linebacker, Houston Texans
PERCY HARVIN, Wide Receiver/Kick Returner, Minnesota Vikings
CLAY MATTHEWS, Linebacker, Green Bay Packers
MICHAEL OHER, Offensive Tackle, Baltimore Ravens
**Fans can vote** for one of these five players on www.nfl.com/rookies through 6:00 PM EST on February 2 to determine the 2009 NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR.
The winner will be presented the 2009 NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award during a press conference in South Florida, the site of Super Bowl XLIV, on Thursday, February 4.
The five finalists were selected for their outstanding performances throughout the 2009 NFL season. Each week, five nominees were chosen for the NFL Rookie of the Week and NFL fans voted for the winner on NFL.com. Those results were used to help determine the finalists.
A closer look at the finalists:
• JAIRUS BYRD (Buffalo Bills) – Starting 11 games and playing in 14, Byrd had nine interceptions, tying the 2009 league lead with three veterans and setting the Bills' rookie franchise interception record. Byrd recorded three consecutive multi-interception games. He also posted an interception in five straight games becoming only the second first-year NFL player since 1970 to accomplish this. Byrd posted 45 tackles and 11 passes defensed for the season and was selected to the 2010 AFC Pro Bowl team as a reserve free safety. Byrd, who attended the University of Oregon, was nominated for three NFL Rookie of the Week awards.
• BRIAN CUSHING (Houston Texans) – Houston's first round draft choice, Cushing led all rookie defenders with 133 tackles, leading or tying the Texans in tackles nine times during the 2009 season. Starting all 16 games for Houston, he had four sacks and recorded four interceptions, leading all NFL linebackers in picks and tied for second overall among rookies. Cushing totaled 10 passes defensed on the season, forced two fumbles and was selected to the 2010 AFC Pro Bowl team. Cushing, who attended USC, was nominated for five NFL Rookie of the Week awards.
• PERCY HARVIN (Minnesota Vikings) – Harvin totaled 2,081 combined yards, second in the NFC and setting a Vikings single-season record. Harvin recorded two kickoff returns for a touchdown, including an 101-yard return Week 3 against the 49ers, and ranked fourth in the NFL with a 27.5 KOR average (42 returns for 1,156 yards). In 15 games, Harvin had 60 receptions for 790 yards, both tied for the best among rookies, and six touchdowns and 135 rushing yards on 15 carries. He was added to the 2010 NFC Pro Bowl squad as a kick returner. Harvin, who attended the University of Florida, was nominated for seven NFL Rookie of the Week awards, winning twice.
• CLAY MATTHEWS (Green Bay Packers) – Matthews play in all 16 games with 13 starts at ROLB, leading the Packers with 10 sacks, the most by a Packers rookie in franchise history and the second most by a rookie in the NFL in 2009. Matthews posted three two-sack games, as well as a sack in four straight games. He led Green Bay with three fumble recoveries (third most in the NFL), which led all NFL rookies, including one for a touchdown. Matthews registered 51 tackles, a forced fumble and seven passes defensed and led the Packers with 35 QB hits. Matthews will take the place of Bears linebacker Lance Briggs on the NFC Pro Bowl roster as he becomes the first Packers rookie defensive player to be named to the Pro Bowl since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. He is the first Green Bay rookie to earn the honor since wide receiver James Lofton in 1978. Matthews joins quarterback Aaron Rodgers, cornerback Charles Woodson and safety Nick Collins on the NFC Pro Bowl squad. Matthews, who attended USC, was nominated for three NFL Rookie of the Week awards, winning twice.
• MICHAEL OHER (Baltimore Ravens) – Oher played every snap (1,014 offensive plays) this season starting 11 games at right tackle and five at left tackle. His blocking helped the Ravens earn a franchise-record 22 rushing touchdowns (tied for most in the NFL) and Baltimore's ground attack produced the fifth-most yards per game in the league (137.5). The Ravens tied the franchise single-season record for points (391 in 1996) and set a team-record for touchdowns scored (47). Baltimore was one of two teams to boast a 3,500-passer, a 1,300-yard rusher, and a 1,000-yard receiver and was one of three teams to register over 20 passing and 20 rushing touchdowns on the year. Oher, who attended the University of Mississippi, was nominated for two NFL Rookie of the Week awards.