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Ten Panthers named to Pro Bowl

Posted Dec 22, 2015

A record number of Panthers picked for the Pro Bowl, including linebacker Thomas Davis and four other first-timers.

SOCIAL MEDIA REACTION | PRO BOWL HISTORY

CHARLOTTE - A franchise record 10 Panthers have been selected to the Pro Bowl.

The list includes five first-time selections, headed by a long overdue honoree in linebacker Thomas Davis, and five Panthers who have been selected before. Center Ryan Kalil was picked for the fifth time, quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly for the third time and tight end Greg Olsen and fullback Mike Tolbert for the second time.

The Panthers' previous high came in 1996, when eight players were selected.

"It's truly an honor to be selected to the Pro Bowl," Davis said. "All the hard work and dedication I've put into the game has paid off. I'm extremely excited and I couldn't be more thankful to the fans who took their time to vote me in, as well as my fellow players and coaches.
 
"To have ten guys selected says a lot about our team. It says a lot about our fans and how highly they thought of us this season, and I think it says a lot about the way our season has gone. I'm excited and thankful to be part of the ten."

Fans, players and coaches each accounted for one-third of the vote. Being selected is a huge honor, but Panthers players hope they don't play in the game itself, scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016, in Hawaii. That's because players preparing for the Super Bowl the following Sunday do not make the Pro Bowl trip.

Here's a look at each of Carolina's 2015 Pro Bowlers.

OFFENSE

QB Cam Newton

A leading candidate for NFL MVP, Newton has been nearly unstoppable directing Carolina's offense. He's thrown for 3,402 yards and a career-high 33 touchdowns. He's also rushed for 580 yards and seven scores.

RB Jonathan Stewart

A key cog since his rookie year in 2008 but the undisputed starter for the first time in his career, Stewart ranks fourth in the NFL with 989 rushing yards with six touchdowns on the ground. Also has 16 receptions with one touchdown.

TE Greg Olsen

Newton's No. 1 target continues to prove he's one of the league's premier tight ends. Olsen has 71 catches for a career-high 1,048 yards to go along with seven touchdowns. Olsen is 11th in the NFL in receiving yards and behind only Rob Gronkowski among tight ends.

C Ryan Kalil

The anchor of Carolina's offensive line has been rock-solid. He's further cemented his status as one of the league's top centers and has helped the Panthers' two young guards flourish.

G Trai Turner

The 22-year-old Turner earned his first Pro Bowl nomination after emerging as a powerful force. Turner has been technically sound and has started every game this season.

FB Mike Tolbert

Carolina's fullback has recorded four touchdowns, one on the ground and three through the air. He's been reliable short-yardage runner and contributor on special teams.

DEFENSE

LB Luke Kuechly

Despite missing three-and-a-half games following a concussion in the season opener, Kuechly leads the team with 121 tackles based on coaches' film review. He's shown improvement as a pass defender, as evidenced by four interceptions.

LB Thomas Davis

Ranks second on team with 113 tackles – his fourth consecutive 100-tackle season - and has excelled in blitz packages with a career-best 5.5 sacks. Davis also gotten his hands on the ball with three interceptions, four forced fumbles and two recoveries.

CB Josh Norman

Came out of the gates fast and hasn't looked back, though opponents haven't targeted him much since he picked off four passes in first four games. Norman took two of them the distance for touchdowns and has forced three fumbles.

DT Kawann Short

The third-year pro has been dominant in the middle of the defensive line. Short's nine sacks rank third in the NFL among defensive tackles, and he's forced three fumbles and recovered two.

“It’s truly an honor to be selected to the Pro Bowl,” Davis said. “All the hard work and dedication I’ve put into the game has paid off. I’m extremely excited and I couldn’t be more thankful to the fans who took their time to vote me in, as well as my fellow players and coaches.
 
“To have 10 guys selected says a lot about our team. It says a lot about our fans and how highly they thought of us this season, and I think it says a lot about the way our season has gone. I’m excited and thankful to be part of the 10.”