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Smith, Kalil selected to Pro Bowl, but not Newton

December 27, 2011

O-N-E photo by Cody Dalton

CHARLOTTE — Panthers center Ryan Kalil and receiver Steve Smith were selected to the NFC Pro Bowl team Tuesday night, but sensational rookie quarterback Cam Newton wasn't.

Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Eli Manning were the three NFC quarterbacks who made the Pro Bowl ahead of Newton.

Manning threw for 26 touchdowns and ran for one, while Newton combined for 34 touchdowns — 20 passing and 14 rushing. Newton was selected as a first alternate and will play in the game if any of the three quarterbacks ahead of him make it to the Super Bowl.

Kalil, who spearheads the league's fourth-ranked offense, is headed to Hawaii for the third straight season but for the first time as a starter.

Kalil has been a mainstay in Carolina's third-ranked ground attack as well as the signal-caller along the offensive line.

"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," Kalil said.

Smith, who was third in the NFC with 1,308 yards receiving, was picked at age 32 as a reserve.

Smith was also selected to the game in 2001, 2005, 2006, and 2008, tying him with Michael Bates and Julius Peppers for most Pro Bowl selections in Panthers history.

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

Offensive tackle Jordan Gross said it didn't surprise him that Newton didn't make the team.

"I thought Cam was deserving, no doubt," Gross said. "But honestly I thought those would be the three based on how long they have been in the league. Sometimes it just takes being in the league a while. But I know Cam is a first alternate and there is no shame in being a first alternate as a rookie."

Like Newton, Gross was also a first alternate.

Gross was pleased that Smith and Kalil made the team.

"Steve, to come back the way he did this year, was awesome," Gross said. "And Ryan is as good as anybody in the league. He did a great job of directing traffic in a new offense."

The Pro Bowl is Jan. 29.

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