It doesn’t seem that long ago when Jon Beason was the star of the Carolina Panthers‘ defense, shining as an All-Pro in spite of a sub-par defensive line and a turnover-prone offense. Those days are long gone now, and Beason looks like a shadow of his former self. Knee and Achilles injuries over the past two years have turned Beason into an average linebacker, and the talent that has built around him at the linebacker spot has not helped his starting chances. Beason lost his starting outside linebacker role to Chase Blackburn last week, and only entered the game for one snap. What has happened to the great Jon Beason?
At one point in time, the injuries that Beason sustained in the last two years would have ended someone’s athletic career, just as a similar knee injury ended Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers‘ career. But with the advances of medical technology, such injuries, while they are still serious, do not pose as much of a danger as they used to. People take these remarkable recoveries for granted and believe that these athletes can just return to form in a set period of time, but the body simply doesn’t work that way. Everybody recovers differently, and repeat injuries make full recovery very difficult.
It’s clear that Beason has not fully recovered from his injuries, but the only way for him to re-acclimate is to play the game and relearn what his muscle memory has forgotten. He may have a long and tough road ahead of him though, because he hasn’t looked great in his first three games. Beason doesn’t have nearly the burst that he did prior to the injuries and his play recognition seems rusty as well. Beason used to be in on almost every tackle, now he is scarcely found in the pile. Blackburn will be more than capable as a fill-in, but everyone in Panthers nation would love to see the old Beason back. The Panthers already have one of the best front seven’s in the league, but the addition of a healthy Beason would make them best in the league hands down.