Panthers bracing for worst on Jon Beason

When Carolina coach Ron Rivera met with the media Monday, he didn’t have results of medical tests on linebacker Jon Beason.

BeasonBut Rivera didn’t sound optimistic and used the word “dire’’ after Beason was carted off the field in Sunday’s loss at Arizona. Beason had been dealing with Achilles tendinitis during the preseason and had surgery on the same foot for a bone bruise late in the preseason. Team officials told the media Sunday they feared Beason had torn his Achilles tendon and will miss the year.

As the Panthers wait for official word on Beason, they have to prepare to go on without him. Dan Connor has started in the middle before, and the fact he’s from Penn State probably means the Panthers now are headed to the Super Bowl. I’m just adding a little humor to a difficult situation and I’m a Penn State fan (even after the loss to Alabama).

But the reality is Connor is a good linebacker, but he’s not Beason. Connor plays the run just fine, but isn’t a guy you want dropping in coverage. The Panthers can rely on outside linebackers Thomas Davis and James Anderson in pass coverage.

Once Connor steps into the starting lineup, though, the Panthers have little linebacker depth beyond the starters. Omar Gaither is the only backup with much experience.