Jaguars' Campbell, Rams' Gurley win PFWA Player of the Year awards

By Alex Butler  |  Jan. 17, 2018 at 2:12 PM
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Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley and Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell have been awarded the top offensive and defensive awards from the Pro Football Writers of America.

The PFWA announced Gurley as the Offensive Player of the Year and Campbell as the Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday.

Gurley, 23, had a career-high 1,305 yards and 13 scores on 279 carries this season for the Rams. He also had 788 yards and six scores on 64 receptions, totaling a league-high 2,093 yards from scrimmage.

"Obviously the more balls you get, just keep getting thrown at you, the more you're going to get comfortable with it. Any ball that comes my way now, I feel like I can catch," Gurley told reporters on Jan. 3, when asked about about his ability to catch passes this season. "You know, if you don't catch the ball the obviously you don't know how good of a catcher you can be. But coach [Sean] McVay and just the whole offense this year defiantly helped me to bring that to my game this year."

The No. 10 overall pick from the 2015 NFL Draft had a brilliant rookie year in 2015, getting a Pro Bowl nod after rushing for 1,106 yards and 10 scores. He slumped in 2016, rushing for 885 yards and six scores, before breaking out again in 2017 for the surprising 11-5 Rams. Los Angeles won the NFC West and had the highest-scoring offense in football.

Gurley was also named an All-Pro for the first time for his efforts.

Campbell, 31, joined the Jaguars in March as an unrestricted free agent. He tallied 67 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 14 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, three passes defensed and a fumble recovery. He returned that fumble recovery for a 10-yard touchdown. Campbell's 14.5 sacks were the most in the AFC and set a single-season franchise record.

The three-time Pro Bowler also earned his first All-Pro bid.

"Has been outstanding," Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said of Campbell, when talking to reporters Wednesday. "When people say, what are some of the things that surprise you? Having always watched Calais on tape being an offensive line guy, you have always had a great appreciation for his effort and his playmaking ability."

"One of the things I have learned this year about him, just the versatility that he has, to play among the whole defensive line and be productive in all different areas. There are a couple of guys in this league that do that, but to have that type of production, there are only two or three. It has been outstanding and I think the way he prepares. I just love, me personally, when you ask him about his success he's going to tell you it's about something else. I think he's a great pro and he's one that for all of our young players, for myself or our scouts, for our coaches-those are the type of guys you are trying to get on your team."

Jacksonville allowed the fewest yards per game in the AFC in 2017 and finished the year with a 10-6 record. The Jaguars also made it to the AFC Championship, where they face the New England Patriots on Sunday for a chance to go to the Super Bowl.

The Jaguars totaled 56 sacks on the season, trailing only the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jacksonville had the best pass defense in the NFL, allowing 710 fewer yards through the air than the Minnesota Vikings, who ranked as the league's second-best pass defense.

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