This summer, Beason signed a six-year, $51 million contract that included a $20 million signing bonus. A first-round draft pick in 2007, Beason has played inside and outside linebacker for the Panthers and is one of their defensive leaders, starting 65 consecutive games.
Dan Connor, a former third-round pick who started half of the 2010 season, will take over for Beason at middle linebacker.
"You can pretty much imagine what it's going to be like to lose a leader like Jon," said Panthers outside linebacker Thomas Davis, who has missed much of the previous two seasons with a torn knee ligament. "He's a guy who comes in day in and day out and gives you everything he has. It's going to be extremely tough for us.
"But we have some guys who have to step up now. You know, Dan Connor is a guy who has stepped up and played well for us in the past."
Beason injured the same leg that has given him problems over the last several months. Beason originally was diagnosed with Achilles tendinitis in the leg, but he said that wasn't the case and an MRI exam revealed he had inflammation in the bone.
Beason then had three screws inserted into his foot and was told he would need to be out three to four weeks to recover. He came back in less than three weeks to play in Sunday's opener at Arizona.
"I'm just happy and honored to be on this team because we had guys out there that were blowing out tires to fight," Smith said. "It doesn't get any better than that. You don't get guys in the locker room like that. It rarely comes and when you have a guy who does that you surely miss him."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.