CHARLOTTE – When linebacker Ryan Kalil fell to the ground in the Panthers' season opener at Arizona, he first thought he had gotten tangled up with someone else.
Once Beason realized that no one was else around, he knew there was a serious problem.
"It felt like I got hit with a stick," Beason said Wednesday, when he addressed the media for the first time since tearing his left Achilles tendon. "I thought someone had tripped me, like when someone hits your heel and you stumble. When I turned around, I realized no one was there.
"Then I grabbed my calf, and it was just mush."
Beason, who underwent surgery on Sept. 16, expects to have his cast removed Friday and will be in a walking boot for six weeks. If all goes well, he should be back to wearing normal shoes around Thanksgiving.
For Beason, who had never missed a defensive snap – let alone a game – in his first four NFL seasons, it's been a difficult month but one that he's approached with the kind of determination that made him great in the first place.
Beason wasn't able to attend the Panthers' first two home games but did attend Sunday's loss to the Saints.
"At first it's hard to come to grips with missing a play, missing a game. Then having to sit home in a splint, not able to leave the house, it's tough because I couldn't be here for my team," Beason said. "But now that I can, I feel better about it. I'm content. The outlook is forward. For me, it's all about September of 2012."
And Beason, whose four full seasons with the Panthers produced the top four tackle totals in franchise history, doesn't plan to ease his way back into the lineup next season.
"I plan on being better," he said. "I've had setbacks before, and there's always an opportunity to do something great when you come back.
"In my mind, I expect to be back to my normal self. Then being a year older in the system and in my career, I expect to play even better."
For now, Beason is taking his time, being careful to follow doctors' orders every step of the way. He watched the Panthers' first two home games from home, meaning he wasn't there to console fellow linebacker Thomas Davis when he suffered his third major knee injury in less than two years.
"I was taken aback for sure," Beason said. "Thomas is a guy who has worked extremely hard. It's just unfortunate, but based on the procedure he's just had, he feels good about it. He's in good spirits about coming back."
Even though Beason can't play, that doesn't mean he can't play a part in the Panthers' continued growth. Now that he's back in the building, he's back to attending meetings.
"He'll tell me things he sees, I'll tell him things I see, and we try to get on the same page," said James Anderson, the lone starting linebacker from the season opener still standing. "It just shows what kind of guy he is and leader he is."
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said that Beason isn't alone in that regard.
"Having him and Thomas Davis around has been a nice boost for our young defense, especially the linebackers. And since (defensive tackle) Ron Edwards tore his tricep (early in training camp), he's been around every day," Rivera said. "They both go to meetings and look at the game plans and give the guys whatever advice they can.
"It's been important to our team to see those guys around. Those veteran guys realize they can have an impact even if they don't play."
Beason doesn't like being limited to watching, and he doesn't like the Panthers' 1-4 record heading into Sunday's game at Atlanta. Otherwise, though, he likes what he's seen.
"The team is taking to coaching well and is starting to gel. The difference has been one or two plays," he said. "At this point, the confidence should be there. Now we've just got to go out there and execute."
Anderson predicted that the second Beason is cleared by doctors, he'll hit the ground running. For a little while longer, though, Beason will have to settle for being back in the locker room.
For someone as upbeat as Beason, it's not such a bad place to be.
"This is what I love," he said. "I can't ever remember coming in here and not being in a good mood, not being happy to be here. Even on days that I'm tired, I still love what I'm doing. I feel like I'm in my element.
"To be back around here, it's a big plus. I think it's going to help me heal."