Kuechly third Carolina defender honored

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Want an indication of how strong the Carolina Panthers' second-ranked defense is? For the third time in nine games a Carolina player has been selected the NFC defensive player of the week.

Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly won the award after collecting 11 tackles, two for loss, and a sack in Sunday's 10-9 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

The reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year played an integral role in holding the 49ers to 151 total yards.

Defensive end Greg Hardy earned the award in Week 3 after he sacked New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning three times in a 38-0 victory. Outside linebacker Thomas Davis won it two games later with two sacks and nine tackles against the Minnesota Vikings.