Jon Beason's comeback from a torn Achilles' tendon continues this week with the start of Carolina Panthers minicamp, but how firm is the three-time Pro Bowl pick's grip on his old middle linebacker position?
Beason was a standout player at the "Mike" for most of four seasons with the Panthers. When he was moved to the outside due to an injury to weakside linebacker Thomas Davis in 2010, Beason wasn't the same playmaker.
Beason now returns to a team that includes Luke Kuechly, the No. 9 overall pick who did his damage at Boston College in Beason's traditional spot. Carolina's plan at this time is to keep Beason in the middle with Kuechly competing at the weakside spot. It's Beason's job to lose, but Kuechly could be knocking hard on the door if he's as good as advertised.
"If that happens I approach it the way I always have when asked to move from safety to fullback or fullback to linebacker, outside to inside or vice versa," said Beason, according to The Associated Press. "I've kind of dealt with this situation my whole life. I look at myself as a true football player. I think I can go play offense, too."
Beason isn't upset the Panthers targeted a player who could theoretically replace him.
"I don't know how it's all going to unfold, but I understand the draft pick," Beason said. "I understand the kid was off the charts. So you draft him and it makes your football team better. But there will be pressure on his shoulders too. He has to learn all three positions and we'll see how it works out."
If Beason is 100 percent, he shouldn't have much to worry about. But Achilles injuries are devastating, and the Panthers are undoubtedly holding their breath that Beason still has the explosion that allowed him to cover so much ground in the past. If not, the backup plan is already in place.