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Ron Rivera noncommittal on Jon Beason starting again

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The Carolina Panthers' defensive turnaround last season coincided with Luke Kuechly replacing veteran Jon Beason at middle linebacker.

When the Panthers blew out the New York Giants behind a shutdown performance from their defensive front seven in Week 3, Beason was on the field for just one snap.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera was noncommittal this week when asked if Beason would get his weakside linebacker job back from Chase Blackburn.

"We'll have to see. We've got two days of practice this week and then a whole week to get ready for Arizona," Rivera said Monday, via the Charlotte Observer. "Again, as we go through this, we're going to put the people on the field that give us the best opportunity to win football games."

Beason started all 64 games while earning three Pro Bowl nods for Carolina from 2007 to 2010, but he has played just seven games since tearing his Achilles tendon in the 2011 season opener.

The 28-year-old still is regaining confidence in the surgically-repaired knee that limited him in training camp. The coaching staff planned to ease Beason back in via a situational role, but he was a liability in coverage to the tune of five receptions for 112 yards in the Panthers' Week 2 loss to the Bills.

It's conceivable that the Panthers could be 3-0 had the switch to Blackburn occurred before the season opener. Armed with that knowledge, Rivera will be hesitant to turn back to Beason until the veteran recaptures some semblance of his pre-injury form.

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