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Steve Smith, Jon Beason return to Panthers practice

The Carolina Panthers got two big pieces of the puzzle back on the field Sunday.

Wide receiver Steve Smith and middle linebacker Jon Beason both returned to practice after extended absences, the Carolina Observer reported.

Smith has been out of action for two weeks after coming down with a foot infection. The issue was not believed to be serious, and the team likely took a cautious approach to his recovery. He might not even be on the Panthers' injury report when it's released later this week.

Beason's return was an equally promising development for the Panthers. The middle linebacker has missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury.

Beason is coming off a torn Achilles tendon that ended his 2011 season after just a few dozen snaps in one game. The team had been monitoring his snaps as he came back from that serious injury, so they likely took their time with the hamstring issue, which turned out to be more serious than originally thought.

Smith is quarterback Cam Newton's No. 1 weapon and one of the most dynamic playmakers in football. Beason is a three-time Pro Bowl receiver who could wreak havoc on the field alongside first-round draft pick Luke Kuechly.

In other words, Sunday was a good day for the Panthers.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.

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