It’s been a rough day for crippling, season-altering injuries. Earlier today the Chiefs learned that they’ll be without Eric Berry for the rest of the season after he tore his ACL when Stevie Johnson went low on a questionable block.
Now the Panthers have received confirmation of news that was expected the moment Jon Beason was carted off the field yesterday: their starting middle linebacker is gone for the season with a torn left Achillies.
Beason suffered a non-contact injury during Carolina’s loss to Arizona yesterday as he was chasing Cardinals tight end Jeff King during his 48-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The ease with which Beason suffered the injury is a possible indication that he returned from offseason surgery too soon. Beason missed most of training camp and had surgery on Aug. 22 for a bone bruise in his left foot that was diagnosed as Achilles tendinitis. Even though he was given a recovery time of three-to-four weeks, Beason returned in less than three weeks to make his 65th straight start.
Head coach Ron Rivera told the Charlotte Observer that he didn’t think the two injuries are related, but he couldn’t be certain. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott called it a freak injury, which is the typical adjective given to a non-contact tear.
Beason has been selected to the Pro Bowl for three straight years, and plays a massive role in the Carolina defense, particular when it comes to stopping the run. When Carolina’s front office was driving by their players’ houses and throwing bags of money at doorsteps earlies this summer, Beason signed a five-year contract extension worth $50 million, $25 million of which is guaranteed.
Now a Carolina run defense that ranked 23rd in the league last year and gave up an average of 123.8 yards per game will be without its anchor up the middle who has five sacks and 262 tackles over the last two years.
Dan Conner–a fourth-year player who appeared in just eight games last year–will replace Beason. Conner is considered a liability in pass coverage, which will likely lead to a rotation with Omar Gaither.