EARLY CANDIDATES FOR COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR

The Associated Press’ NFL Comeback Player of the Year award began in 1998. Last year’s winner, the since-retired Andrew Luck, missed all of the 2017 season because of shoulder surgery. This year’s early leader is 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, although former Viking and current Saints savior Teddy Bridgewater is making things interesting. One dark horse candidate: Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, who missed five games last season while dealing with mental health issues.

Here’s a look at five possibilities:

1. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers QB: Tore an ACL in Week 3 a year ago. Has 49ers off to 5-0 start.

2. Teddy Bridgewater, Saints QB: Stepped in for Drew Brees and is 4-0 in his only meaningful action since a gruesome left knee injury in the summer of 2016.

3. Cooper Kupp, Rams WR: Had 40 catches and six TDs in 10 games when he tore an ACL last year. Has 45 catches and four TDs in six games this year.

4. Devonta Freeman, Falcons RB: Knee and groin injuries limited him to 14 carries in two games last year. Has 103 touches in six games this year.

5. Everson Griffen, Vikings DE: Missed five games last year while dealing with mental health issues. Now playing “maybe as good as I’ve seen him play,” says coach Mike Zimmer.

MARK CRAIG