Jon Beason has been outstanding in his two starts at middle linebacker for the Panthers, but he believes he'll be headed back to weak-side linebacker once Dan Morgan returns.
"I know Dan's going to come back, and I'll just move back to (weak-side linebacker)," Beason said. "That's what I hope. People get nicked all the time, and I would hope if I got nicked for a couple weeks I wouldn't lose my job.
"Obviously if a guy's playing well, people might consider it a controversy. But Dan's proven. He knows (playing middle linebacker) far better than I do. It's not like I'm going to bring more to the table than a healthy Dan Morgan will. I think with both of us out there, we're a better defense."
Morgan's return date remains a mystery.
And the decision on who starts there is ultimately up to head coach John Fox, not Beason.
Eventually, of course, Beason will be the team's middle linebacker once Morgan decides to step down. That puts Beason in the potentially awkward position of one day replacing his buddy, a guy who served as role model to him while he was at the University of Miami.
"I don't think it's necessarily going to be a coaching decision," Beason said. "I think it's when Dan's ready, Dan will step down."
But Beason is hoping it will be awhile before Morgan hangs it up.
"If it was up to me, I would hope he could play 10 more years so we could play together," Beason said. "That's one thing I was looking forward to, is being out there on the field with him, learning a lot, watching him. I've been taking notes and want to have that same mystique he has at that position."
Beason's play has prompted teammates to take notice.
"You have a rookie guy who's playing one position and moves to another position on the fly, in the middle of the stuff that was going on," said defensive end Mike Rucker. "I think he's really stepped up to the plate and really stepped your game up."
But Rucker added Morgan can only help the defense.
"There's nobody else like Dan," Rucker said. "We can't wait to have Dan back, because Dan is Dan."