Written By Carolina Panthers
Charlotte, N.C.--Five Carolina Panthers were named to the Pro Bowl - quarterback Cam Newton, fullback Mike Tolbert, center Ryan Kalil, middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and defensive end Greg Hardy - the National Football League announced Friday.
The five Pro Bowl selections are the most for the Panthers since the team had seven players in the game in 1996. These are the first Pro Bowl selections for Tolbert, Kuechly and Hardy.
Contributions from Newton, Tolbert and Kalil have allowed the Panthers offense to rank 11th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (126.1 yards per game), fourth in third down conversion percentage (43.5 percent), third in time of possession (32:19), tied for the third-fewest three-and-out drives (33) and 10th in red zone offense (56.3 touchdown percentage).
Newton is making his second career Pro Bowl appearance after playing in the game as a rookie in 2011. This season, he has career highs in completion percentage (62.1 percent), passing touchdowns (22) and passer rating (89.2). He has added six rushing touchdowns.
In his sixth NFL season and second with the Panthers, Tolbert earned a Pro Bowl selection by totaling seven touchdowns (five rushing and two receiving). Thirty of Tolbert's 94 carries have resulted in first downs and his 31.9 first down percentage is the top mark in the NFL among running backs and fullbacks.
Kalil, the Panthers 2013 Ed Block Courage Award winner, has been selected to his fourth career Pro Bowl after starting all 15 games for the Panthers this season. Kalil was selected to three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2009-11 before missing the final 11 games of 2012 with a Lisfranc injury.
Defensively, the Panthers are ranked first in the NFL in points allowed (14.7 points per game) and third in the NFL in total yards allowed (300.9). Kuechly has started all 15 games for the Panthers and Hardy has started 12 of 15 games played.
The 2012 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Kuechly leads the Panthers in tackles with 167, including two sacks, and is tied for the team lead with a career-high four interceptions.
In his fourth season from Mississippi, Hardy leads the Panthers with 11 sacks, tying his career high set in 2012. The Panthers have 51 sacks this season, third-most in team history.
The 2014 Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 26, 2014 and televised live on NBC at 7 p.m. from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.
New in 2014, the Pro Bowl will be "unconferenced." No longer will the game feature the AFC vs. NFC match-up that has existed since 1971. Instead, players were selected without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and players. Players will later be assigned to teams through the Pro Bowl Draft, which will air on NFL Network on Wednesday, January 22 at 8 p.m.