For the second straight year, a second-year player has earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors from the Associated Press.
The NFL announced Saturday night that Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly has been voted the AP‘s top defender for 2013.
Kuechly notched 156 tackles, intercepted four passes and forced two fumbles for NFC South-winning Carolina, which featured one of the NFL’s top defenses.
Kuechly had a monster game in the Panthers’ pivotal Week 16 victory vs. the Saints, recording an astounding 24 tackles (nine solos).
Only 22 years old, Kuechly is the first inside linebacker to win AP Defensive Player of the Year honors since Chicago’s Brian Urlacher in 2005.
Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt garned the AP‘s top defender award in 2012.