NFL begins recognition of the military this month
The NFL has begun its recognition of the military this month, including nominees for the ''Salute to Service'' award.
The award, presented by USAA, a leading insurance and financial services provider for current and former members of the military, veterans and their families, will recognize a league member who demonstrates '' exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community.''
Among the nominees is Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who grew up on a military base near Seattle. Kearse recently launched the 15 to 1: The Jermaine Kearse Foundation, to support and inspire youth in military families.
''Being nominated by the Seahawks for the Salute to Service award is an honor and reinforces the importance of supporting our military,'' Kearse says. ''It's important to me because I grew up in a military family. Think about it, your parent gets deployed, and it's a constant guessing game: Is my mom or dad going to come back? That's real life.
''This stuff we're doing here (playing in the NFL), this is cool, but when I think about that, what those kids are going through. That's real life for these people.''
The other nominees: Arizona's Deone Buccanon; Atlanta's Dan Quinn; Baltimore's Steve Smith; Buffalo's Richie Incognito; Carolina's Ron Rivera; Chicago's Jerrell Freeman; Cincinnati's Kyle Caskey; Cleveland's Joe Thomas; Dallas' Darren Woodson; Denver's DeMarcus Ware; Detroit's Golden Tate; Green Bay's Tom Bakken (assistant equipment manager); Houston's Brian Cushing; Indianapolis' Pat McAfee; Jacksonville's Blake Bortles; Kansas City's Derrick Johnson; Los Angeles' Jeff Fisher; Miami's Jamie Quadrozzi (game entertainment manager); Minnesota's Jeff Locke; New England's Joe Cardona; New Orleans' Drew Brees; Giants' Mike Sullivan; Jets' Eric Decker; Oakland's Jon Condo; Philadelphia's Don Smolenski (team president); Pittsburgh Alejandro Villanueva; San Diego's Sean Lissemore; San Francisco's Garrett Celek; Tampa Bay's Clinton McDonald; Tennessee's Stormi Wagley (alumni cheerleader); and Washington's Derrick Dockery.
Buccaneers receiver Vincent Jackson was last year's award recipient.
ROBY'S BIG WEEK: Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby has been getting a lot of love lately.
First, he received the NFLPA's Community MVP award for his community work, then he won the AFC defensive player of the week award for his performance Sunday against San Diego when he started in place of an injured Aqib Talib.
''For me to be honored off the field and then be honored on the field was kind of special to me,'' Roby said. ''I think that's the kind of a real life example that when I do things with good intentions in the community, sometimes you get rewarded for stuff like that on the field, as well.
''I'm living right is really what it comes down to.''
Roby was honored by the players' union after hosting a family fun night while raising money for academic achievement programs.
Then, making his first start of the season, he had seven tackles, broke up two passes and had a 49-yard interception return for a touchdown in Denver's 27-19 win over the Chargers.
STAYING WIDE: The Green Bay Packers have been known in recent years for playing receivers in the backfield. The wrinkle is even more important this season with so many injuries at running back.
But don't look for Jordy Nelson lining up alongside Aaron Rodgers any time soon.
''We're in deep, deep trouble,'' Nelson joked this week when asked if there was a package for him to get snaps in the backfield.
How about a wildcat package?
''We're talking major issues, especially as a running back,'' he added.
Randall Cobb has lined up in the backfield at times. Ty Montgomery has excelled in the role this season. They're shorter receivers who can create plays in traffic.
The 6-foot-3 Nelson is a favorite target for Rodgers in the red zone, tied for the league lead with six receiving touchdowns.
Maybe one day though, Nelson could try his hand at a trick play.
''I could play some quarterback. Maybe we could run a double-pass or something,'' he said.
AWESOME AJAYI: Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi rushed for 187 yards in 2015 as a rookie. Hardly the precursor to what he has done in his last two games.
Ajayi enters Sunday's matchup with the Jets - and their staunch run defense - coming off consecutive 200-yard rushing performances. He went for 204 yards on 25 carries in a win over Pittsburgh, and followed that with 214 on 29 rushes against Buffalo in another victory. Then Miami had its bye.
He also could join Pro Football Hall of Famers O.J. Simpson (647 yards) and Walter Payton (604) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 600 yards in a three-game span. Ajayi has 418 yards.
AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner and Arnie Stapleton and Sports Writer Genaro C. Armas contributed.
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