Jon Beason shows versatility in return to field

BALTIMORE Jon Beason needed just three practices before he was ready to hit the field again for the Panthers.

The three-time Pro Bowler started Thursday night at weakside linebacker, playing in his first live-action game since Week 4 of last season against Atlanta.
Beason went on injured reserve last year with shoulder and knee injuries, and he had microfracture surgery on his knee during October. Since then, he has rehabilitated the knee, and he didn’t participate in a padded practice until Sunday.

“He’s another guy that’s a leader, another guy that knows what he’s doing,” middle linebacker Luke Kuechly said this week at practice. “He’s strong, he’s communicating, he knows what he’s supposed to be and it’s just fun to have him out there.”

Coach Ron Rivera said this week the team would get “creative” with Beason, saying simply keeping him at weakside wouldn’t be a good use of all of his talents. Beason had been the franchise’s middle linebacker until Kuechly won that position last year and eventually became The Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Beason didn’t make any standout plays through two quarters Thursday, but his versatility was welcomed by the Panthers. On the first drive, Beason played in a base 4-3 defense as well as in the 3-4.

His presence was especially needed when Chase Blackburn, who had been filling in for Beason, did not dress because of an unspecified injury. Blackburn caught a helmet to his back last week against Philadelphia and played just one series.

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