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Smith, Kalil voted onto Pro Bowl team


CHARLOTTE - Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith and center Ryan Kalil are heading to the Pro Bowl.

Smith will make his fifth appearance – his first since 2008 – while Kalil will appear in the game for the third time and start for the first time.

The Pro Bowl kicks off Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012, at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. The game will be broadcast on NBC beginning at 7 p.m.

Smith joins kickoff returner Michael Bates and defensive end Julius Peppers as the only Panthers to make five Pro Bowls in team history.

"It's an honor and a privilege to be selected because it shows the respect of your peers," said Smith, in his 11th season out of the University of Utah. "Next to the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl is the biggest honor in our profession."

Smith is enjoying his best season since 2008, with 73 receptions for 1,308 yards and six touchdowns heading into Sunday's season finale at the New Orleans Saints. His yardage total ranks fourth in the NFL.

With Smith and Kalil starting every game, the Panthers rank fourth in the NFL in total yardage and fifth in scoring.

Kalil has helped the Panthers rank third in the NFL in rushing. The team has rushed for more than 100 yards in a franchise-record 13 consecutive games.

"You are only as good as the guys you play next to, and I have been fortunate to play next to some really good offensive linemen and have two good backs and a heck of a quarterback," said Kalil, in his fifth season out of the University of Southern California.

This marks Kalil's third consecutive appearance in the Pro Bowl but the first time he's been voted into the game. The rosters will be updated between now and kickoff, with players reaching the Super Bowl as well as injuries opening the door for others.

The Panthers have now had at least one Pro Bowl selection in 15 of their 17 seasons.

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