The Carolina Panthers were cautious during OTAs and minicamps with middle linebacker Jon Beason, who was lost to a torn Achilles at the start of the 2011 season. The three-time Pro Bowl player wanted to be on the field but understood the team's approach.
When it comes to training camp, however, Beason is determined to work with the first-team defense, Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reported Thursday.
"I'll be out there. I'll take the reps with the ones," Beason said. "Camp is a grind. I expect it to be sore. Youâre going to have good days and bad days. It's just camp, even if you are healthy. Getting in football shape is always a tough task. I'll do as much as I can and be smart about it."
Head coach Ron Rivera has lamented the lack of communication that took place on the Panthers' defense a season ago as the unit played without its leader. Teammate Jonathan Stewart also said the team missed Beason last year and will be better for having him in 2012.
"He's a monster," Stewart said. "And we didn't have our monster last year."
The Panthers have the luxury of easing Beason back into the fold. The team used a first-round pick on Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, who led the nation in tackles the last few seasons and could use some work in the middle during training camp, though he's expected to eventually slide over to the weak side.