Beason shows off speed in minicamp

jperson@charlotteobserver.comJune 12, 2013 

Linebacker Jon Beason was flying around the practice field Wednesday on the second day of the Panthers’ minicamp.

He was at a new position, but he was back with the first-team defense – and that was enough for Panthers coach Ron Rivera to be encouraged.

Beason, coming off knee and shoulder surgeries, spent most of the three weeks of organized team activities on the sideline, and it was assumed he wouldn’t see much action until training camp in July.

But after the team’s medical staff cleared him, Beason returned to practice.

If he was at less than full speed, Rivera didn’t notice.

“They passed him on the physical, so I assume he’s 100 percent. He moved around like it. He made some plays,” Rivera said. “You really see that energy coming back. You see that quickness.”

Beason worked at strongside linebacker next to Luke Kuechly, who took Beason’s spot in the middle after Beason went down last season. Kuechly was named the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year after leading the league in tackles.

Beason has played in just five games the past two seasons. He blew out his Achilles early in the 2011 season, and underwent three surgeries in a 17-month span.

But Rivera said he was not hesitant about putting Beason back on the field.

“Jon works so hard at everything. It really didn’t surprise me that he’d be ready to go,” Rivera said. “And I’m glad to see him out there. I think he’s going to help us, just his presence and who he is as a football player.”

Hixon healing: Wideout Domenik Hixon hates that he’s missing his first minicamp with the Panthers. But he figures it’s better than sitting out his first training camp with his new team.

Hixon, who signed a 1-year contract with Carolina after five seasons with the Giants, is out with a hamstring injury. Hixon tweaked it during OTAs last week, and decided not to take any chances by rushing his recovery.

“It’s doing better,” Hixon said. “It’s one of those things where you really don’t want to set yourself back going into the dead period and have it be a lingering problem throughout training camp.”

Hixon, who won two Super Bowls with the Giants, said it’s been “a lot of fun” adjusting to a new offense and quarterback. He said Cam Newton and Giants quarterback Eli Manning share at least one trait.

“They both want to win, whether it be 1-on-1’s or routes or just during walkthrough,” Hixon said. “The competitive nature, that’s what you need to be an elite quarterback. (Newton) is well on his way.”

Cam on Tebow: Newton played behind Tim Tebow for two seasons at Florida, and faced him in a preseason game last year when Tebow was with the Jets. Newton said he’s happy Tebow is getting another shot in the NFL with New England.

“I’m excited. I wish Tim Tebow the best,” Newton said. “Hopefully it works for him and the Patriots.”

New England visits Carolina for a Monday night matchup in Week 11.

Extra points: Guard Edmund Kugbila is still sidelined with a left knee injury. Kugbila wore a brace on the knee Wednesday, and Rivera said he hopes the rookie will be 100 percent for training camp.

• Reserve tight end Nelson Rosario dropped a well-thrown pass by No. 2 quarterback Derek Anderson in the end zone during red-zone drills. A couple of plays later, Anderson fired a touchdown strike to fullback/tight end Richie Brockel, who held on despite running into padded goalpost.

• With several hundred of the team’s corporate sponsors watching, veteran wideout Steve Smith made a sliding catch on the first play of team period. Smith got up and did his signature ball spin.

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