Jon Beason has been cleared to participate in minicamp for the Carolina Panthers and the mainstay in the middle of the defense will remain there.
Beason, who was on the shelf last season as he recovered from a torn Achilles tendon, will start at middle linebacker for coach Ron Rivera, according to the Associated Press and that means first-round draft pick Luke Kuechly, a middle linebacker at Boston College, will be lined up on the weak side.
But nothing is set and the Panthers might tinker and experiment as the summer and preseason come along. Kuechly is most comfortable in the middle. So is Beason. But the veteran is not concerned about possibly moving right now.
“If that happens I approach it the way I always have when asked to move from safety to fullback or fullback to linebacker, outside to inside or vice versa,” said Beason, a three-time Pro Bowl performer. “I've kind of dealt with this situation my whole life. I look at myself as a true football player. I think I can go play offense too.”
The Panthers were rocked with injuries at linebacker last season as Thomas Davis suffered a torn ACL for the third time. It made selecting Kuechly with the ninth overall pick a shrewd move as it gives the club youth on defense even if Beason returns to top form.
“I don't know how it's all going to unfold, but I understand the draft pick,” Beason said. “I understand the kid was off the charts. So you draft him and it makes your football team better. But there will be pressure on his shoulders too. He has to learn all three positions and we'll see how it works out.”
Beason also offered high praise for Kuechly. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Panthers need both of these players on the field and both need to feel comfortable in their roles.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune