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Minutes: Defensive injuries spur shuffle

Posted Aug 24, 2009

Jon Beason looks toward the stands prior to Saturday's game. (PHOTO: ANDREW MASON / PANTHERS.COM)


CHARLOTTE -- During Monday's practice, the middle of Carolina's first-team defense couldn't have looked much different from its original plan.

Three weeks after losing Maake Kemoeatu to a torn Achilles tendon, the Panthers worked Monday at Bank of America Stadium without middle linebacker Jon Beason and safety Charles Godfrey, absent because of a sprained knee and a broken hand, respectively. Both are "day-to-day," head coach John Fox said, but Godfrey underwent surgery Monday.

While Beason's absence was tempered by the return of linebackers Landon Johnson and Thomas Davis -- albeit on a limited basis for each -- Godfrey's injury further stretched a safety corps already strained by the knee problems for safety Nate Salley, who did not practice the last two weeks of camp. Salley remained sidelined Monday per a "team decision," Fox said.

The safety injuries necessitated the signing of ex-Bengal and Saint Kevin Kaesviharn on Monday, and he was on the field for practice in jersey No. 40. To make room, the Panthers released wide receiver Jason Carter.

"We needed a spot for a safety." Fox said.


Kevin Kaesviharn chats with Chris Harris during practice Monday. (PHOTO: ANDREW MASON / PANTHERS.COM)

Kaesviharn, who turns 33 on Saturday, started all 11 games in which he played for the Saints last year, logging 64 tackles and two interceptions. But the Saints released him on March 26, and in the nearly five months that followed, he couldn't find a new team, continuing to work out near his New Orleans home until the Panthers called Sunday.

"I like to think that I can still play," said Kaesviharn. "I want to come out here and prove that -- not just to myself, but to everyone else."

"We think can step in and help us," Fox added. "He's got some catching up to do but he's proven he can play, and we'll take a good look at him here moving forward."

The eight-year veteran -- who came to the NFL after stints in a pair of now-defunct circuits, the Arena Football League and XFL -- saw his 2008 season end in early December because of a neck injury. But by staying in shape, he figured some team would call at some point.

"We knew something would probably happen eventually. It was just a matter of time," he said. "You never want anyone to get hurt, but you know that playing this game, someone's going to get hurt. I made sure I was in shape and ready to go."

BUT WITH KAESVIHARN'S ARRIVAL comes the release of Carter, ending the wide receiver's bid to come back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in last year's third preseason game.

When asked whether Carter had fully recovered from the injury, Fox demurred.

"I can't go into exact details, but this gives him an opportunity to look elsewhere," Fox said. "We've still got some guys competing there (at wide receiver), and that's why we've got these last two games."

Carter was a first-team punt returner last summer, and it was in that duty that he tore his ACL last Aug. 23. Such work was not on Carter's plate this summer, however, with Captain Munnerlyn, Ryne Robinson and Larry Beavers handling those chores last Saturday at Miami.

SPLIT SECONDS: Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith both practiced; neither played Saturday ... Offensive lineman C.J. Davis and running back Jonathan Stewart worked out with strength and conditioning coach Jerry Simmons during the two-hour session ... The venue might have changed, but Fox began practice setting a tone that the work remained the same as it did in Spartanburg, S.C. "Still in camp, just a different location!" he bellowed.