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Carolina Panthers

Dayton Fliers: A Pro Bowl win-win


Every trade in the NFL brings a balance of risk and reward, and the Pro Bowl on Sunday will feature one that paid dividends to each investor.

The setting was draft day 2007. The Panthers were picking 14th while the New York Jets were sitting at 25, eyeing a player they did not think would reach them. The Panthers had several players in mind they thought would be available later in the round.

When general managers Marty Hurney of the Panthers and Mike Tannenbaum of the Jets talked on the phone in the 15 minutes before the Panthers' pick, a deal was made. Carolina would switch places in the first round if the Jets would give Carolina their second-round choice to move up.

The Jets took cornerback Darrelle Revis at No. 14. The Panthers selected linebacker Jon Beason with the 25th pick and added center Ryan Kalil with the 59th pick in the second round. All three will be on the field Sunday in Honolulu.

Revis has established his reputation with the Jets. Beason has been an ironman with an iron will for the Panthers, starting 64 consecutive games and appearing in three straight Pro Bowls, while Kalil is in his second straight Pro Bowl and has not missed a start the last two seasons.

Beason and Kalil are joined by left tackle Jordan Gross, who will start Sunday's game. Gross came to Carolina as a first-round pick in 2003 and is among five draft selections on the Panthers roster who have appeared in the Pro Bowl, along with wide receiver Steve Smith and running back DeAngelo Williams.

To have reached the game is a compliment to each of the players, particularly Beason, who was at the disadvantage of splitting time between outside and middle linebacker. He started eight games on the outside before Dan Connor was hurt, and the last eight at middle linebacker.

Despite a variation in position, the result was similar to previous years as he compiled 162 tackles, marking the fourth time in his four-year career that he has recorded between 159 and 169 tackles - a high level of consistency by any estimation.

Like a political election, a high-powered offense can carry players on its coattails to the Pro Bowl. The reverse was true for Gross and Kalil and is further evidence of how highly they are regarded by their peers.

While the outcome of Sunday's game in Hawaii will not carry the significance of the contest a week later in Dallas, it is meaningful to those who are selected to play. If you are in the game, you have been recognized as one of the league's best players.

For two of the three players wearing a Panthers helmet, their arrival in Carolina was the result of a gamble whose reward has far outdistanced the risk.


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