Posted by Andy Benoit
A story that hasn’t received nearly enough attention is how the Panthers moved Jon Beason from middle linebacker to the weak side. Beason played weakside linebacker at the University of Miami; he’s only filling the spot because of the season-ending injury to Thomas Davis. But we’re talking about arguably the best 4-3 Mike ‘backer in football changing positions. How often does that happen?
The Charlotte Observer recently took a look at Carolina’s new middle linebacker, Dan Connor.
A lot of people forget that Connor was expected to be an instant starter coming out of Penn State in 2008 (of course, people expect every Penn State linebacker to be an instant starter in the NFL). But he fell to the third round and was drafted by a Carolina team that was already loaded at linebacker. Thus, his first two seasons in the league have been spent on special teams.
Now Connor has the opportunity of a lifetime. And, wisely, he’s leaning heavily on Beason’s guidance.
"I talk to him multiple times each day," Connor said. "Doesn't matter where, and he doesn't care. He's great. He's always there for me. That's what a great leader does. He's been priceless, just unbelievable."
Connor can play all three linebacker positions, but he’s most comfortable inside. It’s surprising the Panthers didn’t try him on the strong side though. Not only would that have kept Beason in the middle, it would have also meant the D would not have to rely on undersized James Anderson (235 pounds) to play in traffic.
It will be interesting to see if the Panthers stick with this linebacking personnel throughout the entire season.
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