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December 20, 2012

Who will man the middle in '13? Rivera leaning toward Luke

After Carolina drafted linebacker Luke Kuechly with the ninth overall pick last April, Panthers coach Ron Rivera tap-danced around the issue of whether Kuechly would play outside or in the middle, where the Panthers had a three-time Pro Bowler in Jon Beason.

Rivera ended up keeping the veteran Beason in the middle, and Kuechly began the year at the weakside. But after Beason went down with shoulder and knee injuries in Week 5, Kuechly moved to the middle and has taken off.

Kuechly is second in the league in tackles and has tied James Anderson's team record for tackles that Anderson established last year.

Rivera has not said definitively that Kuechly will man the middle when Beason returns next season. But he strongly suggested it.

“When you look at the different skill sets, I think Jon's got the skill sets to play inside and outside a little bit more than Luke does. Luke's skill set lends more toward being an inside guy. So we'll see,” Rivera said Thursday.

“It's still a ways away. But I think we may have found something here. I think it's one of those things that you do what's going to be best for us.”

Rivera said Beason's recovery from knee surgery is on schedule, and he soon will undergo shoulder surgery.

--Joseph Person


Posted by Observer Sports on December 20, 2012 at 02:52 PM | Permalink


So does this mean Rivera is here next year?

Posted by: jason | Dec 20, 2012 3:05:02 PM

Really? Beason? Luke is the best ML we have ever had. No way, no how we bring Beason back. It has been fun guy, but I hope the Big Cat learned his lesson with the Dan Morgan fiasco. Good luck where ever you end up!

Posted by: WHAT??? | Dec 20, 2012 3:11:47 PM

I love me some Beason, but I don't think he's wearing a Panthers uni next year. Luke is an absolute BEAST in the middle and is the future on the D side for this team.

Posted by: Swizzle52 | Dec 20, 2012 3:18:43 PM

How about we go 3-4 and keep them both in the middle with Davis at the small OLB position and Hardy at the rush LB position? All we have to do is draft a nose guard with our first pick.

Posted by: Authority | Dec 20, 2012 3:19:11 PM

Kuechly needs to remain ML - Beason, he's OK if he can stay healthy, but really needs to go......

Posted by: Go Kats! | Dec 20, 2012 3:43:18 PM

Do you start Beason or Kuechly at middle linebacker? Who do I date, Zooey Deschanel or Katy Perry? Those are problems I'd like to have, because it's pretty darn great either way.

Posted by: Ben | Dec 20, 2012 3:44:45 PM

I like our front 7. What we need is Gamble to come back strong and our defense will be top ten next season. Beason or Anderson will be out - and most likely it will be Beason since Anderson stays healthy.

I want the Panthers to draft an offensive tackle in the first and second rounds. Then draft the best S still around in the third round. After that just grab the best player on the board...

Posted by: Dom | Dec 20, 2012 3:48:39 PM

Ben - they are both great players when healthy. The issue is the Panthers have too much money tied up in RB and LB. A couple guys are going to have to be cut or traded and i think it will be DeAngelo and Beason who are shipped out. I think both will play great wherever they end up - so it will likely be a win for everyone involved including Stewart and Luke.

Posted by: Dom | Dec 20, 2012 3:51:36 PM

Kuechly is a rookie playing like a 10 year veteran. Trade Beason and get rid of that huge salary. Put it towards some offensive line help and maybe a veteran in the secondary.

Posted by: Justin | Dec 20, 2012 3:55:36 PM

Rivera is leaning towards Luke?

Leaning....really? Let me break this down for you Coach.

#59 is playing lights out and may end up leading the NFL in tackles. He should go to the Pro Bowl.

#52 has been on IR for basically two years. His last game at MLB he registered 2 tackles and failed to intercept a pass that was six inches over his head. Beason was a great player in 2009 and prior. But he has been hurt a long time and who knows what/if he will be when he comes back.

Because of Marty Hurney stupidity, he gave Beason a huge contract extention while he was on IR. Given the cap situation for next year, I see no way the Panthers don't cut or drastically restructure his contract. Other than eating up cap space, #52 has done nothing the past two years.

Posted by: Doug | Dec 20, 2012 3:55:41 PM

Beason will likely go - he is too much of a leader to play second fiddle

Posted by: Sad to say | Dec 20, 2012 4:10:39 PM

Kept Luke in the middle, move the Beast to the weakside, what he use to play in college, and move Thomas Davis back to safety. That is what Thomas use to play in college, before John Fox move him to play the weakside, after he was drafted. Kept Anderson where he is at, that way everybody is on the field.

Posted by: Bruce | Dec 20, 2012 4:35:57 PM

Are people's memories really that short term? Beason has been outstanding for us and he's still only 27. Perhaps Kuechly should keep the middle, he's obviously been amazing too, but I can't believe so many are ready to get rid of Beason altogether. Did Thomas Davis' return from injuries this year teach us nothing? Beason's health concerns pale in comparison to that, and you know he's going to be motivated.

Posted by: shoeface10 | Dec 20, 2012 4:41:25 PM

We have to keep Beason because it would be a $15M hit on the cap that we do not have. Don't think Beason will restructure as he has all the leverage right now. The next coach may need to take a look at a 3-4 which will eliminate a MLB argument.

Posted by: JJ | Dec 20, 2012 5:21:43 PM

Keep Beason, play all 3 Beason, Davis and Kuechly and have a stout LB corps. Why would you give a guy a chance to came back from 3 torn ACL's and not a guy who has been your best defensive player for multiple years before he was injured. That would be insane.

Posted by: NA | Dec 20, 2012 5:22:32 PM

If Beason Refuses to restructure his large contract then i would suggest trading him if we can find any takers

If he were released we would probably take a big cap hit we can't afford. Looks like this situation may be a big problem for the new GM to tackle.

Posted by: Black--Panther | Dec 20, 2012 5:57:11 PM

People are forgetting that Hurney screwed this up so much, that just two years after a cap purge, we need another cap purge, Gamble, Beason, Williams, hopefully Godfrey, will all be gone. We only have so many picks and no 3rd round.

Welcome to the NFL world of chasing your tail. This team will never have all the pieces in place.

Posted by: Steven | Dec 20, 2012 7:18:11 PM

Quarterback is secure biotch!!!

Posted by: Cam | Dec 20, 2012 7:30:08 PM

For the love of God, IF we bring injury-prone Beason back, it better be a drastically reduced and renegotiated contract. Otherwise, see ya Beason! Kuechly is a stud at MLB and, barring any big injuries, should have a great career.

Posted by: stickyd | Dec 20, 2012 8:22:09 PM

For the love of God, IF we bring injury-prone Beason back, it better be a drastically reduced and renegotiated contract. Otherwise, see ya Beason! Kuechly is a stud at MLB and, barring any big injuries, should have a great career.

Posted by: stickyd | Dec 20, 2012 8:22:13 PM

.....and if Beason has any character and is truly here to make this team better and a contender, he will realize that his contact must be restructured. If not, he's just out for numero uno and will be out of the league or bounce from team to team for the rest of his career.

Posted by: stickyd | Dec 20, 2012 8:24:34 PM

it's crazy the amount of hate for guys like beason and morgan who were OUTSTANDING when healthy. ELITE guys.

it's a contact sport, guys get hurt. doesn't mean they weren't great when healthy. after watching thomas davis this year, i'm not AT ALL going to say beason is done. he's worth keeping around especially if you guy him for cheap because of the injuries. linebacker (as we know) is a high injury position. it's not like lineman....this dudes are getting running starts before plowing into people. depth is necessary. not to mention you can always go to 3-4 at times to stack talent on the field.

of course luke keeps the spot in the middle, but what happens when he goes down? wouldn't it be nice to have beason slide over from the weak side to QB the defense in his absence?

talent on this team is really high. coaching has been the problem this year. we're going to have to cut some good players this offseason. going to be tough to swallow. we should be looking for a stud FS in this draft. even if that's our 1st pick eff it. a ball hawk back there would solidify our defense. OR a corner and move one of our corners to FS or something. Not a whole lot of other needs.

they're probably going to let williams go and they shouldn't. he def wasn't the problem this year and he's been far healthier than most backs of his usage. clearly still has it. they have to cut something like 14 million in salaries AND pay draft picks. I could be wrong on that, but that's my understanding. beason, gamble and williams are definitely the obvious choices but it won't help us to let them go.

Posted by: charlottean | Dec 20, 2012 9:09:32 PM

I really can't believe how many people forget what kind of player Beason is. A 3 time pro bowl MLB. So we get a new kid in who is playing well and you're ready to cut the experienced elite vet just like that. Some of you guys are mercs and fit right in with the plague that is free agency. Beason is a proven stud at MLB. Kueckly shows amazing potential and is playing at high level. I say we keep them both because there is no such thing as too many great players on the same team.

Posted by: chaos03 | Dec 21, 2012 12:19:23 AM

beason bye bye

Posted by: Scott | Dec 21, 2012 12:46:01 AM

Many of the younger players are stepping up now, and we need to address other positions....O-line, WR...need to start looking for a new #1.....smitty in his twilight years now. Beason, Gamble and Stewart all should be trade bait to start making cap space and addressing those other needs.

Posted by: David Crabb | Dec 21, 2012 7:26:11 AM

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