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Jon Beason unlikely to play Saturday for Panthers

Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Jon Beason's hamstring injury from Wednesday is a bit more serious than the team had originally thought. As a result, Beason is unlikely to play in Saturday night's preseason opener against the Houston Texans, coach Ron Rivera announced Thursday.

"He tweaked it a little bit more than we anticipated," Rivera said, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. "Right now, if I had to guess, I'd say he's probably not going to play on Saturday night, unless somehow he feels much better this evening."

Beason is coming off a torn Achilles tendon that ended his 2011 season after just a few dozen snaps in one game. The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker is being counted on to improve the communication on a defense that ranked 28th in the NFL last season. Since his reps were managed closely during OTAs and minicamp, the Panthers are unlikely to rush Beason back from a tweaked hamstring.

The Panthers used the No. 9 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft on Boston College tackling machine Luke Kuechly, who's playing weakside linebacker to begin his pro career. In what could be a sign that Beason's injury isn't one the Panthers expect will linger, they will keep Kuechly on the outside and start Jason Phillips in the middle, Steve Reed of the Associated Press reported.

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