Jon Beason makes big return for Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Near the end of the Carolina Panthers’ first minicamp practice Tuesday, the rain stopped. Then, the reins came off.

Linebacker Jon Beason, who had been on light duty throughout the offseason program, got his first bit of work in team drills. That’s why the noise from his teammates sounded almost like thunder as Beason made a spectacular interception of a Cam Newton pass.

Coach Ron Rivera said Beason simply made a great read on the play.

“It was kind of nice to have him on the football field again,’’ Rivera said. “Just his presence helps us as a defense. We missed that last year.

Beason suffered a torn Achilles tendon early last season. He had been limited to only individual drills during the early stages of the offseason program. But Rivera said last week that Beason had been given medical clearance to go full speed in training camp.

That almost changed as rain hit Charlotte early Tuesday morning. Rivera admitted there was some hesitation about turning Beason loose.

“Oh, yes there was,’’ Rivera said. “We thought about it. The field drains very well. He seemed to be very comfortable during individual periods. When the time came, I gave it the go ahead and he did a nice job.’’

On a side note, the Panthers have eliminated the Tuesday afternoon practice from their schedule. They started their morning session early to squeeze in as much work as possible. Team officials said they were concerned that more bad weather could be on the way and would have impacted an afternoon session. The Panthers now are scheduled to practice again Wednesday morning.