ATLANTA — The awards keep rolling in for Saquon Barkley.
The precocious New York Giants running back Thursday was named the Pepsi Rookie of the Year, an award decided by an online fan vote. This could be a precursor — think Golden Globes leading into the Academy Awards — to the big prize out there: The Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year award, which will be announced Saturday night.
The recent past sets up nicely for Barkley. The previous two Pepsi rookie winners, Alvin Kamara and Dak Prescott, also won the AP award.
The only Giants rookie to receive the Pepsi honor was tight end Jeremy Shockey, who won it in 2002, the first year it was handed out.
Big things were expected of Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and he delivered. He led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage. Previously, only two players in NFL history, Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James, had ever amassed 2,000 yards from scrimmage as rookies.
Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was named the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014, the only Giants player to ever win that award. The only other Giants player to win an AP rookie award was Lawrence Taylor, who was named the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1981.
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Patriots receiver Julian Edelman was asked on Thursday who people should root for in the game, Boston or Los Angeles.
“L.A. is Hollywood. Boston is a sports town, plain and simple,’’ Edelman said.
Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was speaking about veteran players when he said, “All of us get older … except Tom Brady.’’ Phillips, who’s 71 and in his 41st year as a NFL coach, then added of himself, “Hopefully not all old coaches fade away.’’
Patriots headquarters this week is at Georgia Tech, which is fine for everyone except some members of the team, specifically center David Andrews and running back Sony Michel. “The Georgia guys are not thrilled being at Georgia Tech,” coach Bill Belichick said. “But that’s all right. They’ll get over it.”
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Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth is the recipient of the 2019 Alan Page Community Award. In Whitworth’s honor, the NFL Players Association will donate $100,000 to The Big Whit 77 Foundation.
Injury updates: Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower did not practice Thursday because of an illness. “We’ll evaluate him tomorrow,” Belichick said. DT Malcom Brown, who was limited on Wednesday with a calf injury, was a full participant.
Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein (left foot) and safety Blake Countess (foot) both were limited Thursday. Zuerlein did not do any kicking. Coach Sean McVay said the plan all along called for Zuerlein to kick on Friday. “We’re right on track,’’ McVay said.