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Bob Leverone, Associated Press
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) runs for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the third quarter of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011. The Panthers won 48-16.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Panthers quarterback Cam Newton says he's not upset at being passed over for the Pro Bowl despite a record-setting rookie season.

Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Eli Manning were selected over Newton, even though Manning has seven fewer total touchdowns. Newton says he was "honored" to be selected as a first alternate and the guy who'll replace one of the three veterans should he pull out or make it to the Super Bowl.

Newton says, "who am I to be mad at the fact that I'm the first alternate?"

Panthers coach Ron Rivera believes Newton deserves to go, citing his ability to make plays with his feet. Newton has thrown for 20 touchdowns and run for 14, the most ever by a quarterback.

The Panthers visit the Saints on Sunday.