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December 27, 2013

Newton, Kuechly headline five Panthers heading to 2014 Pro Bowl

The Panthers have five tickets to paradise.

Quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly headline a five-player class heading to Hawaii for the 2014 Pro Bowl on Jan. 26, the NFL announced Friday night.

Newton and Kuechly are joined by fullback Mike Tolbert, center Ryan Kalil and defensive end Greg Hardy as the Carolina representatives in the all-star event.

It’s the most players the Panthers have sent to the Pro Bowl since the 1996 season when seven players went.

It’s the second trip for Newton, who played as an alternate following his Offensive Rookie of the Year season in 2011. Newton shot up the rankings in fan voting in the final week, going from ninth to fifth when the final fan votes were announced Friday afternoon.

Kuechly, who was second among inside linebackers in fan voting, is going to his first Pro Bowl. The reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year is a contender for Defensive Player of the Year this season with 146 tackles and four interceptions to lead the NFL’s second-ranked defense.

Kalil is the most experienced of the group going to Hawaii. This will be the center’s fourth Pro Bowl appearance after he went from 2009-2011. His annual trip was interrupted last year when he broke his foot early in the season, but he’s returned to form this season to anchor the Panthers’ offensive line.

Along with Kuechly, Tolbert and Hardy will be new to the Pro Bowl. Tolbert finished first in fan voting among fullbacks. He’s Carolina’s third leading rusher with 332 yards and five rushing touchdowns this season. Hardy’s 11 sacks this season leads the team and ties a career high.

With the new Pro Bowl format this season, players will not be on teams based on their team’s conference. Instead, a draft will be held on Jan. 22 to determine the teams named after Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders.

Noticeably absent from the group is outside linebacker Thomas Davis. Davis, who’s in the midst of the best season of his career, didn’t crack the top 10 in fan voting and didn’t get enough votes from the players and coaches to get an automatic bid.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on December 27, 2013 at 09:06 PM | Permalink

Comments

Absolute shame TD didn't get it. I hate that for him.

Posted by: Winning Time | Dec 27, 2013 9:34:10 PM

Lets hope they all miss the Pro-Bowl this year and will be playing in NYC the week before.

Posted by: Phil | Dec 27, 2013 9:54:25 PM

How the hell does TD not make it this year?? Talk about a snub. He had better make it as alternate or it would be an absolute tragedy.

Posted by: Shaun NJ | Dec 27, 2013 10:37:27 PM

Absolutely incredible that davis doesn't get it. I would argue that he and keuchly have had mirrored seasons. While Luke has more volume tackles, davis has made a ton of tackles for loss or blew up a sure big gain resulting in nothing.

the guy should be up for dpoy - pro bowl should have been automatic.

Posted by: charlottean | Dec 28, 2013 10:55:04 AM

Lots of times a player gets in a year after he deserves it. They will go over and make a big deal out of the snubs, and next year the vote may be more favorable for TD. A person has to make a name first because the coaches and players can't keep up with all 32 teams.


Posted by: Ben | Dec 28, 2013 4:44:15 PM

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