The Panthers still haven't decided exactly where all their linebackers will line up.
But it was good to see another one return to the field this week.
Incumbent middle linebacker Jon Beason returned to team drills Tuesday (June 12), his first full work after Achilles surgery, and promptly picked off a Cam Newton pass in 11-on-11-drills.
Beason had been limited to individual work through OTAs, but was back in his familiar spot when minicamp opened. And it didn't take long for him to look like himself again.
"A natural play," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "Somebody else might not make that play. But I think guys with his kind of his experience and his kind of ability make that. And that's what he saw. He made a nice move on the ball and a nice play."
Those instincts have served Beason well inside, and Rivera has said that as they experiment with combinations, that Beason will begin in the middle. That leaves first-round pick Luke Keuchly on the weak side, though some within the organization think that will ultimately change.
Beason started his Panthers career on the weak side when they were hoping Dan Morgan could stay healthy, but that lasted four games into Beason's rookie season.
Either way, the Panthers hope that having Beason back lends a little more stability to a defense that was rudderless without him last year.
He's still working his way back to 100 percent, but Rivera said he could tell the veteran linebacker was on the right track, even if his conditioning wasn't all the way back.
"It was good to see him moving around," Rivera said. "Really, the biggest thing was just his conditioning. He was winded. He's done all the installation stuff. But he was out there. And you could see he had a little adrenaline rush going. He was all fired up to get that last extra set of reps. He (asked) out just because he was gassed."