Luke Kuechly LB CAR 6 Months

Associated Press named Luke Kuechly its 2013 Defensive Player of the Year.

It's the second straight year Kuechly has won a major award after being named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012. He was best player on a defense that allowed the second fewest points in the NFL this season, finishing with 156 tackles, two sacks, and four interceptions. Kuechly's Week 16 performance against the Saints likely solidified his DPOY candidacy. He received a total of 19 votes to beat out Robert Mathis (11.5), Earl Thomas, (7.5), Robert Quinn (6), Richard Sherman (4), and J.J. Watt (2).

Luke Kuechly LB CAR 7 Months

Luke Kuechly's 24 tackles in Sunday's Week 16 win over the Saints are the most in the NFL since David Harris' 24 in 2007.

It was a performance for the ages in one of the biggest games for the Panthers since their 2004 Super Bowl run. Kuechly, who won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award last season, put an exclamation point on his Defensive Player of the Year candidacy for this year. He's the key cog in a defense that has allowed the fewest points in the NFL this season.

Luke Kuechly LB CAR Feb 04 '13

After film review, Panthers coaches credited NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Luke Kuechly with a franchise record 205 tackles in 2012.

Kuechly, who received 28-of-50 DROY first-place votes, broke James Anderson's team record. The NFL officially credited Kuechly with 164 tackles, as he became the first rookie to lead the league in the statistic since 49ers MLB Patrick Willis did it in 2007. Kuechly acknowledged that he felt "more comfortable" after Carolina moved him from weak-side linebacker to the middle early in the season, and he will remain the Panthers' "Mike" backer in 2013.

Luke Kuechly LB CAR Feb 02 '13

Luke Kuechly was named the Associated Press' NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year on Saturday.

It was an easy choice. Kuechly led the NFL in tackles (164) this season and started all 16 games as an every-down linebacker in Carolina's 4-3 defense. The Panthers are only the fourth team in NFL history to have back-to-back offensive or defensive rookies of the year. The No. 9 overall pick in this past season's draft, Kuechly graded out as a top-eight inside linebacker by Pro Football Focus. Bobby Wagner finished second in the AP voting, followed by Casey Hayward (6), Janoris Jenkins (3), and Lavonte David (3).

Luke Kuechly LB CAR Jan 01 '13

Panthers LB Luke Kuechly led the NFL in tackles with 164 this season.

Kuechly is the first rookie to lead the league in tackles since Patrick Willis did it in 2007 and it's not a fluke. He sheds tackles and goes sideline-to-sideline at an elite level right now. He also made an absurd 532 tackles in three seasons at Boston College before declaring for the draft. Kuechly will stick in the middle next year, meaning Jon Beason will have to find a new spot.

Luke Kuechly LB CAR Dec 22 '12

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera strongly suggested that Luke Kuechly will man the middle when Jon Beason returns next season.

"When you look at the different skill sets, I think Jon's got the skill sets to play inside and outside a little bit more than Luke does. Luke's skill set lends more toward being an inside guy. So we'll see," Rivera said Thursday. Kuechly is currently second in the league with 138 total tackles, which ties James Anderson's team record for tackles that Anderson established last year.

Luke Kuechly LB CAR Oct 26 '12

Panthers rookie Luke Kuechly has recorded 34 tackles (21 solo) in two games as the middle linebacker.

Kuechly started the season tentatively as the weakside linebacker, but has been a major improvement on an injured Jon Beason in the middle. The Panthers are no longer a joke in run defense, thanks in large part to the rookie's emergence in the middle.

Luke Kuechly LB CAR Oct 08 '12

Luke Kuechly racked up 11 tackles, one interception and one pass breakup in the Panthers' Week 5 loss to the Seahawks.

Making a spot-start at middle linebacker in place of Jon Beason (knee), Kuechly was everywhere. The No. 9 overall pick sheds blockers with ease and goes sideline-to-sideline in unique fashion. He's a threat to stick in the middle even when Beason gets back.

Luke Kuechly LB CAR Aug 07 '12

Panthers first-round WLB Luke Kuechly has been making big plays "virtually every practice since the start of camp."

Veteran Thomas Davis (ACL, calf) is listed first on the depth chart, but Kuechly has been hogging the first-team reps throughout camp. He's locked in as the starter over Davis. "(Kuechly) has been as advertised," LT Jordan Gross said. "He's got a nose for the ball and he throws his body around, and that's what you want out of a linebacker."

Luke Kuechly LB CAR Jul 25 '12

Two Panthers sources confirmed to Profootballtalk's Darin Gantt that the Panthers will not switch to a 3-4 defense this season.

The Panthers/3-4 hubbub started when Mike Lombardi stated in an NFL.com column that Carolina was transitioning to a 3-4. The piece was later edited to "mixing in elements of the 3-4," something the Panthers had already been doing. Luke Kuechly will play either middle or weak-side linebacker as a rookie. Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy will remain the defensive ends.