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Bills’ Alonso is second in voting for defensive rookie

Bills’ Alonso is second in voting for defensive rookie Bills middle linebacker Kiko Alonso (50), who led the team in tackles and did not miss a defensive snap all season, has to be satisfied with the pro football writers’ version of the top defensive award. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)


NEW YORK — Buffalo Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso lost out on the NFL’s Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year Award on Saturday night.

Alonso was one of five candidates for the award, which went to the New York Jets’ Sheldon Richardson.

“It’s a tremendous honor to even be up for a prestigious award like this,” Alonso said prior to the announcement, which came inside Radio City Music Hall as part of the third annual NFL Honors show. “The awards and all that stuff is great, but I’m judged mostly on what I do on the field.”

Alonso took all 1,145 defensive snaps this year, leading the Bills with 159 tackles, a total that ranked third in the NFL, and tying for a team high with four interceptions.

“There was definitely a lot of room for improvement, but I’m proud of what I did on the field,” he said. “It felt great to play every snap. My goal was to help the team as much as I could. Being on the field every snap, it’s something I’m proud of. I met my goal I set at the beginning of the year.”

Alonso said it was “unfortunate” the Bills lost defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to the Cleveland Browns, but “that’s how business is.”

“I wish him all the best,” Alonso said. “I loved playing for him. He’s a friend of mine off the field, just a great person.”

Alonso was awarded the Pro Football Writers of America’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award last month, but lost out Saturday to Richardson, who finished with with 78 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and one forced fumble.

“I was surprised,” said Richardson, who also beat out Arizona’s Tyrann Mathieu, Carolina’s Star Lotulelei and New Orleans’ Kenny Vaccaro. “Kiko and Tyrann had great, outstanding rookie years. It was a toss-up to me. It was tight. Kiko had a lot of tackles, Tyrann made a lot of plays down the field during the stretch, unfortunately, he got hurt. Most definitely, it was a tight race.”

Alonso said he’s in good shape after spending some time on the injury report late in the season with a knee injury.

“I feel great,” he said. “I’m ready to go right now.”

Bengals rookie running back Giovani Bernard – who lost out on the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award to Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy – faced Alonso this season in Orchard Park.

“Great year. Phenomenal year,” Bernard said of Alonso. “A guy that was all over the field, that I remember. He’s a guy that if you shake him, he’s going to find you and come back after you. He’s definitely a great player.”


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About the reporters

Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.