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Carolina Panthers

Strickly Panthers: Beason working smart


CHARLOTTE - When Jon Beason stopped to speak to the media at the end of the Panthers' second week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), a reporter asked the rehabbing linebacker how he was feeling.

"I feel great," Beason said, looking skyward. "It's a nice day – not so sunny."

Beason has time during OTAs to talk about the weather given that he's sitting out most of the work being done during the 10 sessions, including the final four that began Monday.

But Beason, linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive tackle Ron Edwards - all coming off a season spent on the sideline -– are making wise use of their time.

"We're preparing to be champions. That's the goal every day," Beason said. "Guys are buying in, and we keep taking baby steps toward winning it."

Beason, who tore his left Achilles tendon in the 2011 season opener, is taking part in some individual work and installation periods, and he's also engaged on the sideline when he's out of action.

Head coach Ron Rivera decided to take a cautious approach with Beason, Davis and Edwards during OTAs in hopes of turning them loose come training camp, though Davis still might be brought along a bit slower.

Beason had hoped to fully participate in OTAs but found out the team's plan for him just before the sessions started.

"They literally told me the day before practice, because if they had told me way out that they planned to keep me on the sideline during OTAs, I probably would have been upset about it," Beason said. "But now I'm just taking it in, listening and realizing it's for the better.

"I feel really good. I'm just doing as told, and for now my role is staying on the sideline and making sure I'm ready to go in July for camp."

IN THE STARTING BLOCK: One player that isn't being brought along slowly is rookie guard Amini Silatolu. The Panthers' second-round pick, who is learning a new position after playing tackle at Midwestern State, has been running with the first team for most of OTAs.

"The idea is to get him in there and have him become a part of what we want to do from the very, very beginning," Rivera said. "He has gotten better each week. It was slow initially as he learns the position, but his athleticism really shows when he gets a chance to pull and get around the corner. You can really see the impact he can make for our team."

Silatolu is playing left guard, a position ripe for a battle that could include former Indianapolis Colts starter Mike Pollak among others. The player in that spot will be flanked by Pro Bowlers – Jordan Gross at left tackle and Ryan Kalil at center.

"Amini has a lot of potential," Kalil said. "He can be a really good player, and he's coming along. It's tough for the young guys to come in here – there's a lot thrown at them – but we're excited for him. He's working hard, and time will tell."




QUIETLY IMPROVING: With Jimmy Clausen not dressing out for a single game last season as the team's third-string quarterback, it can be difficult to gauge his process since a difficult rookie campaign in 2010.

But on Friday, Clausen looked good while splitting reps with Derek Anderson in the absence of starter Cam Netwon, who was attending an event for his foundation.

"Jimmy has looked really good. It's been an exciting offseason to watch his growth," Rivera said. "I know he had a tough rookie year, and last year was tough too, sitting back. But getting an opportunity to do some extra things has been very good for Jimmy. I'm really excited for the young man."

Clausen struggled right along with the rest of the offense as a rookie, throwing three touchdowns and nine interceptions while starting 10 games for a 2-14 team. Clausen battled Newton for the starting job in training camp last year and held his own as both went through growing pains, but Newton won the job.

"It was a tough situation to thrust any rookie in, and we've seen No. 1 draft picks that have gone through that and never really recovered," Rivera said. "Hopefully this has been a great opportunity to take a step back, evaluate things and continue to grow like he has.

"He's got a good arm and is an accurate passer and he's learned a lot in this offensive system. I think he can continue to grow in this system."

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