The Panthers could be without their defensive captain early on in training camp. (File photo by John Clark)
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Many of Carolina’s top players will be returning to the practice field Thursday night but star middle linebacker Jon Beason won’t be one of them.
Beason, who received to a five-year, $50 million contract extension last week, has been placed on the non-football injury (NFI) list while recovering from tendinitis in his Achilles, according to coach Ron Rivera.
Rivera said it’s a precautionary move to allow Beason a chance to reduce the swelling in that area, but expects that the three-time Pro Bowl selection should be ready to return to practice sooner rather than later. Any free agents or players that have restructured their contracts like Beason aren't allowed to participate in practice until Thursday under new CBA rules.
Beason can be removed from the list at any time when deemed healthy by the medical staff.
The Panthers were aware of Beason’s situation prior to signing him to an extension which included a $25 million signing bonus.
Beason is joined on the NFI list by second-year defensive end Greg Hardy, who hasn’t practiced after being involved in a motorcycle accident two weeks ago, and fourth-round draft pick Brandon Hogan, who’s still recovering from a knee injury. Carolinagrowl.com reported earlier in the week Hogan’s surgically repaired knee is not where the team hoped it would be and there’s a possibility he could miss the entire rookie season. He tore his ACL last December prior to West Virginia’s bowl game. Because of the lockout, he didn’t have the benefit of rehabbing with the Panthers strength and conditioning staff.
Also, linebacker Jason Williams was placed on the PUP list. He tore his ACL last December playing with the Panthers and he’s not close to getting back on the field either.
In other injury news, David Gettis missed the latter portion of practice after tweaking his hamstring, but the injury is not viewed as serious.
LONG PRACTICE: The Panthers spent nearly three hours on the field Tuesday prior to getting a 24-hour break where they could return to Charlotte. They’re required to return to work by 2 p.m. Wednesday to begin preparing for a night practice.
“We wanted to make sure we kept them focused because the longer we went in the day they might lose their focus and start thinking about that time off. We got good work from them and we’re pleased with what they’re learning in terms of what we expect from them.”
Rivera said the goal is get his players to “play fast, hard, physical and smart.”
It’s becoming obvious in practice Rivera isn’t afraid to express his feelings.
He didn’t like the play of his offense early on in practice and jumped on them right away.
“Our inside run was terrible and I made a couple of comments and they responded very well and finished up and they did a nice job. I like the way they picked up the tempo all the way through the end of practice.”
CAM WOWS RIVERA: When asked his early impressions of rookie QB Cam Newton, coach Ron Rivera responded, “Wow!”
He went on to say, “He does some things that really lights you up and gets you excited, just as Jimmy (Clausen) did. Jimmy made some good throws and good decisions. But when you look at what Cam does, his running ability is special and that’s kind of one of the things he brings to the table as well.”
Rivera said he’s impressed with how fast Newton gets through the line of scrimmage once he decided to run. The Panthers also have several running plays installed designed specifically for Newton.
“He’s a big athletic person that does some good things and most certainly is a weapon for us," Rivera said.
TEMPERS FLARE: By the end of practice some tempers were starting to stir as RB Mike Goodson and new S Michael Greco, who was claimed off waivers from Green Bay two days ago, got into a wrestling match at the completion of a play and wound up on the ground. They had to be separated by teammates.
Rivera didn’t seem a bit surprised -- or even a bit upset -- over the first fight since taking over as coach.
“We had a little bit of a tussle and we had two guys competing and they were just trying to establish themselves,” Rivera said. “The nice thing about it is it wasn’t a personal thing. It was all about establishing who they are.”
Steve Smith and Jordan Gross were among those who came rushing into to break it up.
When asked who won the skirmish, Rivera laughed and said, “Well I’m a defensive coach, but… let’s call it a draw.”
Rivera said he likes this team and they genuinely like each other but they have a long way to go.
EDWARDS STEPPING UP: Former Appalachian State star WR Armanti Edwards has been one of the early stars of camp and Rivera acknowledged that fact Tuesday.
When asked if anyone has stood out to him, Rivera said, “What we’re getting from Armanti Edwards has been outstanding and it’s been a reflection of the way he worked. I think guys have to understand that the offseason is important, whether you have OTAs or minicamps, how you handle that offseason is important and Armanti has made some great strides. Hopefully he can continue to grow as a football player.”
FINANCIAL LIMITS: Rivera said the Panthers still have room to maneuver under the salary cap, an indication general manager Marty Hurney might not be done adding players just yet.
“I know there is a plan in talking to Marty,” Rivera said. “We talk about that all of the time. As things unfold and develop for us as a team in terms of players not just for this year but the next few years Marty will have that plan and he’ll lay it out as he goes along.”