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What's trending in the NFL: Tom Brady thanks fans; Pro Bowl teams picked

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Russell Wilson becomes a top pick...in the Pro Bowl (1:11)

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, selected first overall for the Pro Bowl draft by Michael Irvin, offers his opinion on some of his Pro Bowl teammates and what it's like not participating in the Super Bowl this season. (1:11)

Here are the top stories from Wednesday:

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Giants quarterback Eli Manning are top picks in 2016 Pro Bowl draft

Tom Brady offers handwritten thank-you note to Patriots fans (by Mike Reiss)

From Bill Barnwell's story on the moves that make Carolina unique -- and a Super Bowl team: "Given that they've won three straight division titles and posted a league-best 15-1 record during the 2015 regular season, now seems like a good time for NFL teams to start copying the Carolina Panthers. Of course, that's easier said than done. It's one thing to want to copy an offense built around Carolina's concepts, but it's another to pull that off with a quarterback who isn't as athletic and talented as Cam Newton. For instance, it's easy to say more coaches should copy Ron Rivera's aggressive style on fourth down, but do those coaches have the combination of Newton and Jonathan Stewart in the backfield?"

ESPN.com continued its look at #SuperBowl50Rank on Wednesday, with Nos. 30-11 of the best players in Super Bowl history. From the write-up on No. 12, former Broncos running back Terrell Davis: "Davis might be the greatest postseason player at his position in the Super Bowl era. He rushed for at least 100 yards in seven postseason games, including Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII, and the Broncos won all seven. His 157 yards rushing against the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII earned him the game's MVP honors."

Panthers left tackle Michael Oher on 'The Blind Side' questions and texts from Cam Newton (by David Newton)

From Sam Monson's ranking of the NFL's 10 best playersInsider of 2015: "There aren't enough superlatives to describe [Rams defensive tackle Aaron] Donald's play this season, but the fact that he played as well as we have ever graded J.J. Watt offers some insight into his performance. Donald was a dominant force on the Rams' defense all season."

Broncos running back C.J. Anderson thanks Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for encouragement

From Phil Sheridan's story on quarterback Sam Bradford and the Eagles' 2016 outlook: "The Eagles' plan seems to be pretty simple: Go to the Senior Bowl and the scouting combine and take a close look at draft prospects such as Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook. Get a feel for which, if any of them, would be available with the 13th pick in the first round. Simultaneously, get a sense of whether any of them can be legitimate franchise quarterbacks. If they're convinced they can get a legit quarterback in the draft, the Eagles can let Bradford walk in free agency. If not, they can use the franchise tag or negotiate a long-term contract with him in order to keep him."

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton says he's not changing anything to satisfy critics (by David Newton)

Browns coach Hue Jackson hasn't talked to Johnny Manziel yet (by Pat McManamon)

Two Gronks in New England? Glenn Gronkowski meeting with Pats at Senior Bowl (by James Walker)


Best stat

From ESPN Stats & Information research: The Panthers ran the ball by design on 46 percent of plays this season, highest in the NFL. The Broncos allowed 3.28 yards per rush this season, fewest in the NFL.


Best photo