SPARTANBURG Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Jon Beason said he could feel the Achilles tendon he injured last season getting tired while he went through his first full practice with the Panthers at training camp.
It felt good. It fatigued on me late because I havent this much work, Beason said. Its hard to simulate football through training. Its a lot of reacting. All of a sudden you have to stop based on what the offense is doing.
It was good early. It faded out a little bit toward the end. I think I was about four plays away from having a pretty good practice. I think I took the most reps on the defense. I didnt want to come out. Part of that is getting in shape and wanting to be out there and get comfortable.
Beason said hes happy to be at middle linebacker, his natural position. There was talk after the Panthers used their first-round draft choice on linebacker Luke Kuechly that Beason might be moved outside. Instead, Kuechly and James Anderson are lining up on opposite sides of Beason.
While Beason has focused much of his attention on being physically ready for training camp, he admitted hes still not fully comfortable mentally with his role due to the time he missed last season.
There is a comfort level but right now Im not as comfortable as I should be, Beason said. Its a new scheme for me because it is my first year in the scheme after missing all of last year. Im doing a lot of thinking out there.
I want to make it more instinctive. Make calls fast and be assertive. There is a curve. I think Im doing a great job with it but I know inside my brain is really going. Sometimes you just want to do it effortlessly.
TIME TO SHINE: Backup tight end Gary Barnidge was in the midst of a strong preseason last year when he broke his ankle the day after camp broke. With the Panthers not re-signing Jeremy Shockey, Barnidge has a chance to win the No. 2 spot alongside Greg Olsen with a good showing here.
Panthers coaches know Barnidge can catch; they want to see him improve his pass-blocking when they max-protect for Cam Newton.
He showed he can run the routes and catch the ball and make things happen down the field, coach Ron Rivera said. The one thing weve got to make sure is hes got to be able to pass protect.
With Shockey still unsigned, the Panthers have not ruled out bringing him back. Barnidge said he cant worry about that.
Shockeys a great guy, a great teammate and a great player, Barnidge said. If they chose to do it, its their choice and I dont have an option. But we have a great group. If they bring somebody else in, they bring somebody else in. Were going to keep fighting together, anyway.
PANTHERS DAY: South Carolina governor Nikki Haley is scheduled to visit Panthers training camp Monday at Wofford where she will recognize team owner Jerry Richardson and proclaim it Carolina Panthers Day across the state.
"For two decades, South Carolina has wrapped its arms around the Carolina Panthers. Were proud of what owner Jerry Richardson and the Panthers have achieved and what they have meant to Wofford College, the Spartanburg community and the entire state," Haley said in a statement.
The Panthers have held training camp at Wofford every year and played their first season in Clemson, S.C.
The Panthers will be in full pads for the first time when they practice at 6 p.m. Monday. Theyve already had a few collisions in their first two days of practice, including one in which running back DeAngelo Williams and linebacker Jon Beason had a hard hit.
"Thats happened twice in my career at practice and it was DeAngelo (both times)," Beason said. "Its tough. You want to practice fast to the ball and keep guys safe. You dont have pads on.
"You want to avoid (contact) as best you can. I think I did a better job than he did. I took the brunt of it but its all good. Well put the pads on (Monday) and get that addressed."
• Rivera tried to put general manager Marty Hurney on the spot after a Sunday morning meeting with the players by calling Hurney up to talk to the players. Hurney didnt have anything in particular to say and when they wanted him to send the players out of practice with a special call, Hurney declined. Some players booed Hurney and then chanted, One, Two, Three, Marty! before heading to lunch.
• If Saturdays evening practice felt a little like a celebration, Sundays was a serious work session. The Panthers started at 6 p.m. and finished at 8:45 p.m., an uncommonly long session.
• It wasnt much, but running back Jonathan Stewart and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn got into a brief shoving match after one play. It was just a quick temper flare with each player shoving the other once. If thats as feisty as training camp gets, itll be a surprise.
• Quarterback Cam Newton didnt look sharp on his downfield throws in the first half of practice, struggling to find his receivers and his rhythm. But as the evening wore on, Newton got better, and his accuracy improved.
He won a few more fans when he tossed a football into a small group gathered beyond one end zone during practice.
• Armanti Edwards made two good receptions during practice, first pulling a pass away from cornerback R.J. Stanford and later stretching to pull down a Newton pass across the middle.
• Justin Medlock, a free-agent kicker, went 4-for-4 on field goal attempts Sunday night. Incumbent kicker Olindo Mare did not attempt any field goals.
• Linebacker Thomas Davis, on the mend from three ACL surgeries, pulled up after one play, appearing to favor his often-injured right leg. It apparently wasnt serious. Davis was walking around and hanging out with Newton as practice wound down.
• Receivers had a handful of drops on open patterns, the most noticeable made by Seyi Ajirotutu who was wide open when he mishandled a Jimmy Clausen pass.
Three Questions With .
DEFENSIVE END CHARLES JOHNSON
Q: Your teammate Charles Godfrey said Saturday that he feels like the sky is the limit for this defense now that its healthy again. How do you feel about that?
I agree. We have so much talent on the defensive side. I think were starting to develop depth, too. Its going to be exciting to see what we can do. The biggest thing is were going to try to cause turnovers and were going to try to stop people on third down. Thats the biggest thing were going to have to increase.
Q: Another defensive end, Greg Hardy, showed up at camp with his hair cut and focused on making an immediate impact. What have you seen from him so far?
Greg Hardy is looking very impressive this camp. It looks like he came in focused knowing that hes going to have to step up this year. Me and him are developing a good relationship. Hopefully were going to see double-digit sacks out of both of us this year.
Q: You had arthroscopic surgery on your knee during the offseason to deal with a cartilage issue. Hows your knee feeling now?
Its getting better every day. Im happy with that. Im running, cutting, trying to stop on a dime now. Im just going to keep getting better and trying to get stronger.
GETTING TO KNOW .
WIDE RECEIVER SEYI AJIROTUTU
Height: 6-3 Weight: 215
College: Fresno State
NFL experience: This will be his third NFL season, second with the Panthers. He signed with San Diego as an undrafted free agent in 2010 and played 10 games for the Chargers. He was claimed off waivers by the Panthers last September and had one reception in 14 games for Carolina.
The scoop: Hes working with the second team receivers in training camp but hes in the mix to get plenty of playing time this season, particularly if David Gettis is slow to return from the knee injury he suffered last year.
Bet you didnt know: His name is pronounced Shay-EE Ah-JEER-uh-too-too and it means God has done this in Nigerian.