Beason bemoans loss of injured players

CHARLOTTE – Panthers linebacker and team leader Ryan Kalil has a special place in his heart for all three of his teammates who learned Monday that they're out for the season, and Beason's heart goes out to each of them.

"It's an unfortunate situation," Beason said. "I think it's a reflection of the season."

Beason lost two of his fellow linebackers, Dan Connor and Thomas Davis, and the Panthers lost starting quarterback Matt Moore. Connor (hip) and Moore (shoulder) were hurt during last Sunday's 34-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints, while Davis (knee) saw his hope of coming off the physically unable to perform list come to an end.

The casualty list got longer Tuesday, when right tackle Jeff Otah (knee) headed to injured reserve.

In the case of Connor -- whom Beason said had been playing "lights out" in his first year as a starter -- Beason said he'd been aware of the Penn State product's ability before the Panthers even picked him in the third round of the 2008 draft.

"I've always been a big fan of his, even back in college," Beason said. "I wasn't big on watching other teams, but Paul Posluszny was the hype, so I watched him a little bit and I'm like, 'Who is this No. 40 guy?' I thought he was the guy.

"When we drafted him, I was like, 'Wow, he's a Mike,'" Beason continued, pointing out that Connor played the middle linebacker position that Beason was playing. "But it's funny how the NFL pans out. Guys get hurt, and we have to shuffle things. That's why you always draft best available, and I definitely think he was a steal for us in the third round."

The shuffle that put Beason and Connor in the starting lineup at the same time – with Beason shifting to the weakside role – came about when Davis suffered his second knee injury in less than a year over the summer. Davis was working toward a possible return this season, but the Panthers decided against activating him.

"I think it's a smart move," Beason said. "We dreamed about doing this when we were little kids, and that's why a lot of guys play hurt, play through pain. Thomas is definitely one of those guys that wants to play. That was evident in how hard he rehabbed, and he looked good.

"But I think that for him and his family – and for this football team – it was a smart move, even though I'd like to see him out there playing with me."

While Beason knew about Connor before Connor joined the Panthers, and he knew about Davis – his NFL elder by two seasons – Beason knew nothing about Moore when he joined the team.

That's one of the reasons Beason admires Moore.

"He's one of my favorite guys in terms of just watching him deal with everything," Beason said. "He came in undrafted, then he's released by the Cowboys, and we pick him up. This guy gets hurt and that guy gets hurt, they bring someone out of retirement, and then all of a sudden we go to this guy who technically isn't supposed to play.

"He plays well and makes the team the next year, and then he had to step up again because of injuries and plays well against some great defenses. Then this year, he battled back from being put down to second string. Man, he's resilient."

Beason described the loss of Moore as "a tough pill to swallow," another dose of reality for a reeling team.

Still, Beason doesn't think the loss of one player – or in this case multiple players – means that the Panthers simply have to take their medicine over the second half of the season that starts with Sunday's game at Tampa.

"We are a team, but I think that individually, guys have to look at themselves right now and just say, 'What can I do to be better?'" Beason said. "If we can do that collectively, we can get on a roll.

"The beauty of it is that there's another opportunity Sunday. It's 60 minutes. It's zero-zero. That's how you have to look at it."

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