In only 21 games played, Luke Kuechly has already become the best middle linebacker the Panthers have ever had. Actually, he is the second best player at his position they Panthers have ever had, right behind Steve Smith.

That is a heavy statement, given the proud history of MLB's like Dan Morgan and Jon Beason, both excellent players in their own right. Kuechly is a more talented and more complete player than either of them.

Its not his speed, size, or tackling ability that sets him apart. But instead, its his nose. Luke has a nose for the football like i have never seen in a Panthers uniform.

As a sideline photographer, this makes my life pretty easy when shooting the defense. Getting a good shot is fairly simple. Focus on Kuechly and follow him. Chances are he will be in on the play for that snap or at the very least indicate for me where the action will be. Thanks for making it easy, Luke.

The only knock on Kuechly last season was his pedestrian pass coverage. This season he has focused in on that and currently has the highest ranking on PFF of any inside linebacker. New England's Brandon Spikes is listed in second place.

Kuechly leads the Panthers defense with 48 stops.

In Kuechly the Panthers have Urlacher 2.0. A stud linebacker who dominates in all aspects of the game and has stayed completely healthy while doing so.