Kuechly wants next award to be Super Bowl

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly has been the poster boy for postseason awards during his first two NFL seasons.

He won the league's Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2012 and the Defensive Player of the Year award last season.

Now he wants a piece of hardware for his ring finger.

And it's not a wedding ring for Carolina's most eligible bachelor outside of quarterback Cam Newton.

Yes, Kuechly mentioned the "S" word.

"The best accolade you can get is the Super Bowl," Kuechly said on Wednesday. "That's what my goal is. I think what everybody in the room wants is for us to win the Super Bowl."

Kuechly gives the Panthers that chance even though most of the country expects them to take a hard fall from last season's 12-4 record. He's led the team in tackles each of the past two seasons with 320, the most in the league, based on press box statistics, since 2012. NFL.com ranked him 15th among the top 100 players for 2014.

The 2013 Pro Bowl selection has looked better than ever in training camp, fine tuning his skills to become better in pass coverage.

He has by far the hardest hit of camp, smacking running back Tolbert so violently on a goal-line stand during Saturday's scrimmage that it seemingly shook the field at Wofford's Gibbs Stadium.

Because he said earlier in the interview that he hadn't made a tackle since Carolina's 23-10 playoff loss to San Francisco on Jan. 12, Kuechly had to be asked what he called that.

"A collision," he said with a smile.

It was somewhat of a payback for Tolbert running over him in the Pro Bowl, but not paid in full.

"That was me losing a collision," Kuechly said.

Kuechly hates to lose, but he's not typically vocal. So the fact he mentioned the Super Bowl makes you take note.

"You ask Cam, you ask [Tolbert]," Kuechly said of the two other Carolina Pro Bowl players last season. "You ask any of the guys on offense. They don't care about Pro Bowls or any sort of the big awards. They just want to win games."