Panthers bringing along first round pick Beason slowly Print
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Friday, 08 June 2007 09:25
NFL Headline News

 CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -What made linebacker Jon Beason so attractive to the Carolina Panthers on draft day was his versatility.
But learning two positions is tough - especially if you're a rookie.
``He's an instinctive guy and I think he's had some background at both outside backer and inside backer in his career,'' coach John Fox said. ``As far as it relates to our system, we'll bring him along primarily at one spot, but kind of keep it an idea.''
The speedy Beason was primarily an outside linebacker at Miami, but played middle linebacker on passing downs. The Panthers hoped the former Miami star could start right away on the outside, and provide important insurance with oft-injured Dan Morgan playing the middle.
But for now, Beason has been working behind incumbent starter Na'il Diggs at outside linebacker during this month's optional workouts.
``Initially I'm focusing on outside and trying to prove I can learn it and whenever that time comes I can make the transition then,'' said Beason, the No. 25 pick in the draft.
Experience has taught the Panthers to bring Beason along slowly. In 2005, the Panthers drafted Thomas Davis in the first round. Unsure whether he'd be a better fit at linebacker or safety, the Panthers moved him back and forth after injuries to other players.
Davis got swamped trying to learn both spots, and was frequently caught out of position during games. He later said he was ``completely lost.''
Fox doesn't want to repeat that with Beason.
``Well, with any rookie, you bring him along as fast as they're capable,'' Fox said. ``It doesn't matter what the coaches know, it's what the player knows. It's too early to say how fast we're going to bring him along at this point. But we'll give him all he can handle.''
The coaching staff may feel compelled to give the 6-foot, 232-pound Beason at least a sample of middle linebacker when training camp starts next month. Morgan, who has missed 40 of 96 games in his career, has suffered at least five concussions. If he's hurt again, the Panthers have few options.
Beason acknowledged he's been studying Morgan, also a former star from Miami.
``You just go over the checks in your head and try to get that mental rep,'' Beason said. ``That's the luxury of being on the second team - you get to watch the first team do it.''
Beason, who has said he feels ``a little overloaded'' already, promises to spend extra time with his playbook. But eventually Beason will be forced to learn both positions.
``A lot of players have that responsibility,'' Fox said. ``We've got some defensive backs that have to know a couple of different positions. The same with D-linemen. By the time you get to the season and go into to a 46-man squad for games, there has to be position flexibility there. ... It'll be the same way with linebacker.''
 

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