Luke Kuechly only Panther selected to Pro Bowl

CHARLOTTE – Linebacker Luke Kuechly has been selected to the Pro Bowl for the fifth consecutive season, tying him with five others for the most selections in franchise history.

Current teammates Julius Peppers and Ryan Kalil, along with Steve Smith, Wesley Walls and Michael Bates also have been picked five times as Panthers.

Kuechly has gone to the Pro Bowl every year except his rookie season in 2012, a year in which the Panthers weren't represented in the annual all-star game. Since then, the Panthers have an averaged six Pro Bowlers a year, including five last season when their run of three consecutive playoff appearances ended.

This year's team, which at 10-4 is well on its way to returning to the playoffs, could still be further represented by alternates. Leading candidates include Peppers, fellow defensive end Mario Addison, defensive tackle Kawann Short, linebacker Thoimas Davis, kicker Graham Gano and offensive linemen Trai Turner, Andrew Norwell and Daryl Williams.

Kuechly is enjoying another standout season, with a team-leading 114 tackles according to coaches' film review. He also leads with team with three interceptions and three fumble recoveries, including one fumble he fetched and returned for his second career touchdown.

Kuechly's 800 tackles based on press box stats since his pro career began pace the NFL over that time. He also leads NFL linebackers with 15 interceptions since 2012, five more than teammate Thomas Davis and Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David.

The 88 Pro Bowlers named Tuesday were selected by a vote of fans, players and coaches, with each group counting as one-third of the vote.

The Pro Bowl kicks off Sunday, January 28 at 3 p.m., and will be broadcast on ESPN and ABC. The game returns to Orlando for the second consecutive season and will feature the traditional AFC vs. NFC format for the second consecutive season.

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