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Carolina Panthers

Newton earns major rookie awards

!Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was named Offensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press on Saturday evening.

Newton also was named Pepsi Rookie of the Year. The winner of the AP award, considered the NFL's official award, is selected by a vote of 50 media members who cover the NFL. The Pepsi award was determined by fan votes via the Internet.

Newton received 47 votes for the AP award (Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton got the other three) to become the first Panther to earn the honor. Defensive end Julius Peppers was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2002.

"First, I've got to give all the honor and glory to the man above," Newton said during his acceptance speech at the inaugural "NFL Honors" awards show Saturday in Indianapolis. "I want to also thank my coaching staff, my family, my teammates and Mr. Richardson for giving me the opportunity.

"And my fans - without them, I would not be here."

Newton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, became the first quarterback in NFL history - rookie or otherwise - to pass for 4,000 yards and rush for 500 yards in a season. He set a rookie record with 4,051 passing yards, and he rushed for 706 yards while breaking Steve Grogan's 35-year-old NFL record for rushing touchdowns in a season by a quarterback with 14.

His 21 touchdown passes are the third-most among rookies all time, and his 35 total touchdowns are the most by a rookie. He also recorded the two highest passing yardage games for a rookie in NFL history: a 432-yard performance in Week 2 against the Green Bay Packers and a 422-yard game in Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals.

Newton previously was named rookie of the year by Sporting News and by Pro Football Weekly/Professional Football Writers of America, which also named him offensive rookie of the year and all-rookie.

Newton played in the Pro Bowl last week, along with Panthers center Ryan Kalil and Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith. Kalil recently was named to the All-Pro second team by AP.

Smith was a finalist for Comeback Player of the Year at the "NFL Honors" event, an award that went to Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Panthers had two of the top five plays of the year as voted on by fans, with the "Annexation of Puerto Rico" play in Week 15 that resulted in a 7-yard Richie Brockel touchdown run coming in at No. 2 and Newton's 49-yard touchdown run in Week 16 ranking No. 5. Randall Cobb's 108-yard kickoff return for the Packers in the first game of the season won the award.

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