SPARTANBURG — Between the two of them, Jon Beason and Jonathan Stewart combined to play 13 games in the 2012 season, and in none of the games was either player 100 percent healthy.
The two veteran Panthers came to Spartanburg on Thursday still reeling from their various offseason surgeries, and while both are bullish about their health for the start of the season, neither will see much of the field this preseason.
Stewart will start on the physically unable to perform list this preseason while head coach Ron Rivera indicated Beason will be limited in his camp duties.
Im not great right now and I can admit that, said Beason, who had microfracture knee surgery and shoulder surgery last year. But we still have time. Im optimistic about that.
Beason said hell have to manage the pain in his knee, and Stewart said the pain in his right ankle is substantial.
The sixth-year running back had offseason surgery on both ankles, getting a scope on his right ankle to clean up the damage from loose bodies.
Its real difficult for the fact that you dont want to be sitting, standing around during training camp watching guys get reps, Stewart said. You got to take things from the mental perspective because thats all you can really do when youre limited. And just missing out on being part of the team, sometimes you feel left out when youre not participating.
Stewart missed seven total games last season with various ankle injuries. He suffered the first injury in the third preseason game against the New York Jets, which caused him to miss the first game of the season at Tampa Bay.
Beason struggled in Weeks 3 and 4 with injuries before eventually going to the IR. The three-time Pro Bowler lost his starting middle linebacker spot to Luke Kuechly, the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year, who has been entrenched in the middle since taking over in Week 5 last year.
Rivera said placing Beason on the PUP list wasnt a consideration because of how far along he is in the rehab process, as well as what he brings to the defense.
Getting him back on the football field with Luke and (Thomas Davis) will be very beneficial, said Rivera, who also said Davis will be limited early with a hamstring strain. The worst thing we can do is to sit him down and not allow him to do anything as far as develop that rapport with the other two guys and the rest of the defense at that matter.
Beason now slides to weakside while Davis flips to strongside after playing in all but one game last year following his third ACL surgery. Due to injuries for both men, the two veteran linebackers have started alongside each other just once since mid-November 2009.
Both Davis and Stewart said its possible they dont see action until the season opener, skipping the four preseason games to continue rehabbing.
When asked if theres a percentage he could put on his ankle, Stewart said that wasnt for him.
I dont really buy into percentages because this is a game of football, Stewart said. It doesnt really matter what percentage you are because once the season starts, youre not going to be 100 percent.