Individual and offbeat award contenders

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COMEBACK PLAYER

Always the toughest award to choose, as last year epitomized when Manning beat out Adrian Peterson, who won MVP. The field is more wide open this year, ranging from players who got benched and lost their jobs in 2012 (Alex Smith in San Francisco, now the starter for undefeated KC; Knowshon Moreno in Denver) or were injured (Dallas linebacker Sean Lee, Tampa Bay cornerback Darrelle Revis).

Too close to call right now, although leaning toward Moreno.

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE

No lineman has won this award, but there are a few who deserve consideration this year: D.J. Fluker in San Diego, David Bakhtiari in Green Bay, Larry Warford in Detroit, and Travis Frederick in Dallas.

From the more glamorous positions, look to Cincinnati RB Gio Bernard, Green Bay RB Eddie Lacy, Detroit TE Joseph Fauria, St. Louis RB Zac Stacy, San Diego WR Keenan Allen, Jets QB Geno Smith, and Buffalo QB EJ Manuel.

Bernard gets the edge for excitement quotient alone.

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE

Plenty of contenders here, but one who stands above the rest is Buffalo LB Kiko Alonso. The second-round pick _ personnel people questioned his size for the pros, not his skills or determination _ is among the league leaders in tackles and big plays. That includes four interceptions, as much as anyone through Week 9.

Runners-up: Safeties Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona, Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans, and Eric Reid, San Francisco; DT Sheldon Richardson, Jets.

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

People want to point to the teams lighting up the scoreboard, and with good reason. But the most impressive work on that side of the ball has been done by Ken Whisenhunt in San Diego. The revival by Philip Rivers, the development of Ryan Mathews and rookie Allen, and the big season from veteran WR Eddie Royal all stem from the work of the former Cardinals coach.

Runners-up: Adam Gase, Denver; Pat Shurmur, Philadelphia.

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR

When your defense is turning an offensive league upside-down while slamming quarterbacks to the ground and picking off passes or grabbing fumbles, there’s no real competition. Kansas City’s Bob Sutton, who could have four All-Pro defenders this season.

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