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February 02, 2013

Kuechly is top defensive rookie

NEW ORLEANS 

A year after Panthers quarterback Cam Newton won the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, Carolina middle linebacker Luke Kuechly won the Defensive Rookie honors Saturday at the NFL Honors awards program at the Jackson Theatre.

Kuechly received 28 of a possible 50 first-place votes to easily outdistance Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who received 11 first-place tallies. Green Bay cornerback Casey Hayward collected six.

Kuechly finished with an NFL-high 164 tackles, becoming the first rookie to lead the league in tackles since San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis in 2007. The Panthers had Kuechly with 205 tackles based on coaches' film review, which broke the team record set by James Anderson in 2011.

Kuechly, the No. 9 overall pick last year from Boston College, said his season took off when he moved from weakside linebacker to the middle when veteran Jon Beason went down with season-ending knee and shoulder injuries.

“I was like, 'All right, this feels better. This feels more comfortable,'” Kuechly said. “I knew that I had to learn, learn, learn. I didn't take a whole lot of reps at the Mike. So that (bye) week after the Seattle game, I could relax, sit down and be like, 'All right, look, it's middle linebacker like I've always done.' I just went from there.”

Kuechly also had a sack, two interceptions, three fumble recoveries and eight pass breakups.

Like Newton, Kuechly also has returned to college this offseason to work on finishing his degree.

In Newton and Kuechly, the Panthers have cornerstones on each side of the ball to build around – as long as each stays healthy.

“We've just got to keep learning. That's the biggest thing,” Kuechly said. “You can come in and have a great rookie season. But if you can't put back to back to back years it doesn't mean a whole lot. I've just got to keep learning, keep improving and talk to the older guys because they've been around.”

--Joseph Person

 

Posted by Observer Sports on February 2, 2013 at 08:13 PM | Permalink

Comments

First Superman, now Clark Kent! Proud day for Panther Nation. It's great to see these guys get national recognition.

Posted by: Al | Feb 3, 2013 1:32:09 AM

and not ONE our guys was in the probowl... ??

Posted by: 10-4!! | Feb 3, 2013 11:16:06 AM

Ray Lewis comes to an end and the next great one arrives!

Posted by: joe cool | Feb 3, 2013 11:24:23 AM

Very curious to see what this team does with Beason. Mr. Night Club is not going to restructure his ridiculous over paid contract and don't even think about moving him to the outside to watch him get burned by every RB and TE in the league.

Posted by: D.W.G. | Feb 3, 2013 10:35:02 PM

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