Jon Beason Will Be Ready For Week 1

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Panthers coach Ron Rivera said wide receiver Steve Smith and linebacker Jon Beason are expected to play in the team's Sept. 9 regular season opener against Tampa Bay after both returned to practice Sunday.

Beason didn't participate in any of the preseason games after injuring his hamstring early in training camp. He split reps in practice Sunday with Jason Phillips, who has been filling in at middle linebacker in his absence.

Beason said the biggest thing now is not pushing the hamstring too fast.

"Coaches are limiting me in practice, but all in all it was a great day," Beason said. "As of today I feel good."

Beason also missed the entire preseason last summer with tendinitis in the lower left leg and then went out and tore the Achilles in that same leg in the season opener against Arizona, thus ending his season.

He said he's not worried about something similar happening this year.

"It's a different injury," Beason said. "When you deal with tendinitis you can only treat it and it goes away on its own. But as far as hamstrings are concerned it's more a strength thing. If there's too much fatigue that's where you begin to get into trouble."

Smith and Beason were captains last year and are considered key cogs for the Panthers.

Smith has played in five Pro Bowls and Beason three.

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