Panthers' Smith, Kalil make Pro Bowl; Newton named alternate

rgreenjr@charlotteobserver.comDecember 27, 2011 

— Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith and center Ryan Kalil are going back to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.

And it's still possible quarterback Cam Newton could join them.

Smith was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team for the fifth time while Kalil was named for the third straight year, the NFL announced Tuesday night.

Newton, running back DeAngelo Williams and offensive tackle Jordan Gross were named alternates for the NFC team. A league source said Newton is the first alternate at quarterback and will likely make the trip to Hawaii.

The three NFC quarterbacks selected ahead of him are Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, New Orleans' Drew Brees and Eli Manning of the New York Giants. If either of the three reach the Super Bowl they will miss the Pro Bowl, which is played Jan. 29 in Honolulu, the weekend before the Super Bowl.

It will be Smith's first Pro Bowl since 2008 and it ties him with former return specialist Michael Bates and defensive end Julius Peppers for the most appearances by a Panther in the all-star game.

"It’s an honor and a privilege to be selected because it shows the respect of your peers. Next to the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl is the biggest honor in our profession," Smith said in a release announcing his selection. Smith leads the Panthers with 73 receptions for 1,308 yards and six touchdowns.

Kalil has anchored a strong offensive line that has helped the Panthers rank fourth in the league in total yardages and fifth in scoring. It will be Kalil's first time as a starter in the game.

"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.

Players are selected based on voting by fans, players and coaches.

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