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 CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Just days after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ordered all team doctors and trainers to attend a summit on concussions, Carolina linebacker Dan Morgan was back on the field.
Morgan, who has suffered at least five concussions in his career, has heard about the summit and the concussion symposium held last month in California. He knows about the stories of depression and memory loss from numerous ex-players. He knows Leigh Steinberg recently label concussions ``a health epidemic.''
But Morgan is determined to return to the game he loves. And on Friday, less than eight months after his most recent concussion, Morgan took part in the Panthers' opening minicamp practice.
``Obviously the words surrounding a concussion are me and some other guys. But I'm not concerned with it. It's out of my head,'' Morgan said. ``I really don't even want to talk about it. I want to move on and get on with my football career, play and have fun.''
That's all Morgan has ever wanted to do, but it hasn't worked out that way. Morgan never missed a game when he starred at Miami, and his durability was one of the things Panthers' officials raved about when they took him with the 11th pick in the 2001 draft.
He's never played a full season in the NFL, missing 40 of 96 games with a variety of injuries. But the concussions are the most troublesome.
Morgan suffered his first as a pro in 2003. He tried to return the next week, but had to leave the game and was still complaining of dizziness more than a month later. He missed four more games in 2004 with another concussion. He then suffered one in preseason game last year and another in the loss to Atlanta in Week 1.
Morgan was told to sit out the rest of the season, but after undergoing a number of tests, he was cleared to begin workouts this spring.
``I feel fine. I've done everything I've needed to pass tests,'' Morgan said. ``That's really the bottom line, I feel great. I have no concerns about coming back at all.''
But the Panthers, unsure of Morgan's ability to stay on the field, took linebacker Jon Beason with the 25th overall selection in last weekend's draft. Beason, a fellow former Miami Hurricane, isn't ready to take over for Morgan just yet.
``I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dan. I look up to him. In that sense, how can I compete with him?'' Beason said. ``Right now I'm trying to be a sponge and take in everything he says to me. He's a vet, so more than anything I'd like to play next to him.''
That was the case Friday. Beason worked with the outside linebackers, while Morgan manned his old middle linebacker spot with the first team. There is no hitting in minicamp practices, but Morgan insists he'll be ready to go when training camp starts.
``I'm not going to come out and be scared to hit anybody. If anything I'm excited to come out and get it going,'' Morgan said. ``It feels good to be out here, I'm healthy and that's the bottom line.''
When healthy, Morgan is dominant. At 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds, he's a hard-hitter with speed. He had 25 tackles in Carolina's loss to New England in the Super Bowl and made the Pro Bowl a year later in 2004.
But studies have shown players with multiple concussions are more likely to suffer more concussions with less contact. And with all the concerns about the long-term ramifications of multiple concussions, one more could end Morgan's career.
``Obviously when you have concussions they say that you're more susceptible, but I've had a whole year off. I've had time to recover,'' Morgan said. ``I feel better than I ever have.''

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