IRVING, Texas --The Pro Bowl is this Sunday, and with Giants quarterback Eli Manning busy preparing for Super Bowl XLVI, his replacement on the NFC roster is Panthers rookie Cam Newton.
Tony Romo and the Lions' Matthew Stafford also made strong cases for the third spot behind the Packers' Aaron Rodgers and the Saints' Drew Brees, both of whom are expected to make the trip to Hawaii. Romo's 102.5 season passer rating was fourth-best in the NFL behind Rodgers, Brees and the Patriots' Tom Brady. Stafford (97.2), who led the Lions to their first playoff appearance since 1999, ranked fourth in the NFC behind Rodgers, Brees and Romo -- and just ahead of Manning (92.5), who has since earned his second career Super Bowl berth.
Newton had a terrific rookie season for the 6-10 Panthers. His 84.5 passer rating ranked 10th in the NFC, but he became the first player in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 500 and he set a single-season league record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (14).