The Associated Press announced Saturday evening that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was its 2011 selection for Comeback Player of the Year.
Stafford edged out Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who received 15 votes to Stafford’s 21. 49ers quarterback Alex Smith came in third. Also receiving votes: Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith, Giants quarterback Eli Manning, Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil, and Patriots defensive end Andre Carter.
Stafford was a logical choice for Comeback Player of the Year honors. Still not quite 24 years old (he turns on February 7), Stafford was limited to three games by injuries in 2010. In 2011, Stafford returned to start all 16 games and directed the Lions to a long-awaited playoff berth while posting borderline video game stats.
Among those who received 2011 AP votes for Comeback Player of the Year, Stafford stood out as easily the highest-impact player on his team and in the league.