Wide receiver HINES WARD of the Pittsburgh Steelers, safety EUGENE WILSON of the New England Patriots, and kick returner REUBEN DROUGHNS of the Denver Broncos are the AFC Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Month for September, the NFL announced today.
OFFENSE: WR HINES WARD, PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Pittsburgh's Ward posted an AFC-best 346 receiving yards for September and is tied for the conference lead in receptions (22) as the Steelers stand tied with Baltimore at 2-1 atop the AFC North. The seven-year veteran and three-time NFL All-Star consistently produces each week, catching at least six passes for no less than 96 yards per game along with a pair of touchdown catches, one shy of the AFC leaders in that category. Despite facing two defenses in the NFL's top 10 and playing in heavy rain at Miami last Sunday night, Ward has six catches for 20 yards or more, tying him for the second-most among all NFL players in the month.
This is the first career Player of the Month Award for Ward. Pittsburgh's 6-0, 215-pounder from Georgia is the first Steelers wide receiver to receive a monthly distinction since the award's inception in 1986.
DEFENSE: S EUGENE WILSON, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Wilson has helped the Patriots (2-0) boost their winning streak to 17 games with 12 tackles, a pair of interceptions and an additional pass defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery – all in eight quarters of work. The two interceptions by the second-year player from Illinois ties him for the second-most interceptions in the NFL and accounts for two of New England's three team interceptions. A win by Wilson and the Patriots this Sunday in Buffalo against the Bills would tie five teams for the longest streak of consecutive victories (18) in league history: 1933-34 Chicago Bears, 1941-42 Chicago Bears, 1972-73 Miami Dolphins, 1989-90 San Francisco 49ers, and the 1997-98 Denver Broncos.
This is Wilson's first career monthly award. He is the first Patriots defensive player to earn a monthly honor since linebacker MIKE VRABEL in December of 2003.
SPECIAL TEAMS: KR REUBEN DROUGHNS, DENVER BRONCOS
Denver's Droughns set the NFL's September standard for kick returns, posting the league's top average of 30.5 yards in addition to tying for the Broncos' team-lead in special teams tackles with three. Droughns, who doubles as Denver's starting fullback, consistently hands his offensive teammates comfortable field position. The Broncos are perched among the AFC's top five in average drive start after a kickoff, taking over at their own 30-yard line.
In his fifth year from Oregon, the 5-11, 207-pound Droughns is Denver's first kick returner to win a Player of the Month Award.