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Notes: Rivera likes up-tempo practice, LB's progress



LINEBACKERS' IMPACT: Linebacker Jon Beason was a full participant in Wednesday's practice, and while he's still working the rust off after missing the final 12 games of the 2012 season due to knee and shoulder injuries, his presence has been felt.

"(Jon's) moving around like he's 100 percent," Rivera said. "You really see the energy coming back, you see that quickness.

"Jon works so hard at everything. It didn't surprise that he'd be ready to go (in OTAs)."

For the first time in three years, linebacker Thomas Davis hasn't had to rehab an injury, and he, too, has given the coaches and medical staff no reason to hold him back during OTAs.

"There was a stretch during OTAs where we were careful with T.D., but the last week of OTAs he really stepped it up so we cut him loose," Rivera said. "He's been outstanding. I'm excited about the speed of that (linebacker) group."

FUTURE OF ZONE READ: The zone-read element of the Panthers' offense has been featured occasionally during OTAs, and Rivera said it will remain a part of the offense in 2013.

"If you go back and look at what we did in the second half, that's what I envision," Rivera explained. "I envision (the zone read) being used in certain situations and circumstances. There are some things we can exploit against some opponents because of it.

"We'll use it and we'll use it very smartly. We're going to mix it up and we're not going to go with something like that as a staple."

The Panthers do, however, plan on making consistent production from the running backs a staple of the 2013 offense.

"To keep them involved (is a goal)," Rivera said. "With (Cam's) ability to get ball downfield, it's going to open things up underneath. With his ability to run, it's going to make people hesitate, and that's where you see the effectiveness of the running backs."

TWO-MINUTE IMPRESSIONS: The Panthers ran two-minute drills toward the end of Wednesday's practice, and head coach Ron Rivera was pleased with what he saw in the up-tempo session.

"I was real happy with what we did with the two-minute drills," Rivera said. "I thought the first bunch was pretty sharp, for the most part. And give credit to the defense, I thought they did some really good things. I thought the effort was really good today."

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