It’s been a rough couple of years for Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason.
A first-round pick in the 2007 draft, Beason spent his first few years in the league putting his name in the conversation of the best linebackers in the NFL. But after a blown Achilles in 2011, he has played only five games in two years and lost his job as the middle linebacker of the Panthers to second-year man Luke Kuechly.
That Achilles injury, as well as a microfracture procedure on his right knee last October and a surgery to repair a torn labrum in January, have kept Beason from living up to the monster deal the Panthers gave him heading into the 2011 season.
While it’s certainly been a long couple of years for Beason and for Panthers fans, he thinks his best football is still to come.
So far, the results are giving Carolina fans optimism that he can live up to it. Beason was not expected to see time on the field during OTAs this spring, but when the team doctors cleared him to participate, he decided not to sit on the sidelines, but rather to get out of the field and take his place at outside linebacker next to Kuechly, the reigning defensive rookie of the year.
That new role on the outside will be his biggest challenge in his quest to once again be one of the best linebackers in the league. But switching spots on the field isn’t something new to him. He played safety in high school, started his University of Miami career as a fullback and eventually moved to linebacker. His versatility will be his best asset going forward.
If he can make the transition to outside linebacker, and of course stay healthy, there are plenty of reasons to believe Beason can once again be a major contributor to what should be a very good Panthers defense in 2013.