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Panthers well-represented at Pro Bowl

Posted Jan 28, 2011

CHARLOTTE - The Panthers fell short of the playoffs this past season, but a trio of Carolina players still will be a part of the postseason when they compete in the Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday (7 p.m., FOX).

Despite winning the fewest games in the NFL in 2010, the Panthers have the fifth-highest number of Pro Bowlers among NFC teams.

Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross was elected as a starter, while center Ryan Kalil and linebacker Jon Beason joined the roster as injury replacements.

"It says a lot," Kalil said. "You have teams in the playoffs who haven't had anybody on the team go to the Pro Bowl."

Two NFC playoff teams – the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks – don't have any players in the Pro Bowl, though in the Packers' case it's because they're preparing for next weekend's Super Bowl.

The Atlanta Falcons lead the NFC with nine Pro Bowlers, followed by the Dallas Cowboys with six.

The Panthers ranked last in the NFL in total offense and scoring offense in 2010, yet with Gross and Kalil upfront, they still managed to finish sixth out of 16 NFC teams with an average of 115.4 rushing yards per game. They ranked fourth with 14 rushes of 20 or more yards and third with four rushes of 40 or more yards.

"Although our record didn't show it, we did do some good things in the run, some things that other teams had to respect coming in to play us," Kalil said. "Only winning two games, that says a lot about what we've been doing - whether it's the running backs or the linemen that go (to the Pro Bowl)."

On the other side of the ball, Beason will play in the Pro Bowl for the third consecutive season after racking up 162 tackles – the second most in team history. Beason's first four seasons in the NFL have produced the four highest tackle totals in team history.

The Panthers players invited to Honolulu planned to enjoy the experience. The Pro Bowl had been played in Hawaii for 30 consecutive seasons before shifting to Florida last season, when Kalil made his first appearance.

Now it's back at Aloha Stadium, where Gross played his previous two Pro Bowls.

"It's a blast," said Gross, who arrived in Hawaii with multiple family members a week before the game. "It's a family vacation and a great reward, to be able to play with a lot of guys you've looked up to in the league. The game is fun, especially at the end. Guys really compete at the end.

"It's a fun trip."