Clay Matthews

Matthews the new defensive rookie of the year?

Now that Houston Texans’ linebacker Brian Cushing has been suspended for violating the league’s policy on steroids and related substances, the Associated Press, which presents the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, has decided to re-vote for the honor.

Cushing will remain on the ballot, but there’s a chance he won’t win the award again considering the PED indictment. That brings us to the Green Bay Packers’ Clay Matthews, who had a pretty solid rookie campaign himself. Matthews will compete for the award with Cushing, Washington’s Brian Orakpo and Buffalo’s Jairus Byrd.

So what are Matthews’ chances of winning?

Well, probably not overwhelmingly great. Matthews finished third in the original balloting, where Cushing crushed the competition, receiving 39 of 50 possible votes. Byrd finished second with six votes. Matthews received three and Orakpo got two.

Realistically, in order for Matthews to win, the AP would have to almost totally disregard Cushing as a candidate. They’d then have to turn to Matthews instead of Byrd or Orakpo.

There’s certainly a possibility that could happen.

The baseball writers haven’t voted Mark McGuire into the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite 583 career home runs, largely because he’s believed to have used steroids. That should tell you something about how writers feel about PEDs.

Byrd could be penalized because he played for a poor Bills team and the same goes for Orakpo, whose Redskins finished at the bottom of the NFC East. But considering Byrd beat Matthews in the original vote and Orakpo made the Pro Bowl ahead of Clay, that doesn’t seem like a great probability.

We’ll know more towards the end of the week. Ballots are due Wednesday.