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Carolina Panthers: Ryan Kalil is back – and smarter, too

SPARTANBURG and Jonathan Jones

Panthers center Ryan Kalil had become an expert on Lisfranc injuries – and spent part of his offseason talking to other experts on the mid-foot injury.

Kalil, who had season-ending surgery after going down in a Week 5 loss to Seattle last year, said he knows “more than I ever cared to know” about the injury.

Here’s what he learned from Chargers center Nick Hardwick, who sustained a Lisfranc injury in 2008: They hurt, even post-surgery.

“His only advice was it’s going to hurt for a while,” Kalil said Friday. “But he said it works. It’s where you’ll need it to be. So that’s been the thing that I’ve latched on to.”

Getting a healthy Kalil back would be a big boost for the Panthers. The former Southern Cal standout is a three-time Pro Bowler, as well as a smart player who handles the pre-snap, line calls.

Kalil said his left foot would continue to require “maintenance” to prevent swelling. Otherwise, Kalil is optimistic about returning at full strength.

A year ago Kalil took out a full-page ad in the Observer predicting the Panthers would win the Super Bowl in New Orleans. Though Kalil made no such public promises this year, he feels the same way.

“We have a very talented team,” he said. “It’s one thing to hope to win. It’s another thing to expect to win. And I expect this team to win games.”

Beason contract details: Linebacker Jon Beason agreed to a significant pay cut, although Beason can recoup a lot of the money by staying healthy and remaining on the roster.

Under the terms of the restructured contract he signed this week, Beason’s base salary drops from $5.25 million to $1 million guaranteed, a league source said Friday.

Beason earns a $500,000 roster bonus Saturday and can collect an additional $1.75 million in roster bonuses throughout the season. The contract also includes a $500,000 bonus if Beason makes the Pro Bowl a fourth time.

The restructuring drops Beason’s cap figure from $9.5 million to $5.75 million, counting Saturday’s roster bonus. The rest of Beason’s base salaries remained unchanged through the 2016 season, creating the potential for another restructuring next year when his cap figure is $10.75 million.

“Obviously, you do what you’ve got to do to help the team,” Beason said Thursday. “Like I told (general manager Dave) Gettleman, I’m a football player. I want to play football. That stuff, you guys get worked out, I’ll stick to what I have to do, which is play ball.”

Gettleman inherited a Panthers team that was $16 million over the cap this winter. The Panthers are now $12.8 under the cap, according to ESPN.com.

OBSERVATIONS

• That simpler offensive terminology the Panthers put in to get out of the huddle faster? It worked. Practice finished 12 minutes early because of the quicker pace.

• Luke Kuechly and Cam Newton resumed their personal game-within-the-game. Kuechly picked off a Newton pass, drawing a cheer of “Luuuuuuuuke” from the crowd. Advantage, Kuechly.

• With linebackers Beason and Thomas Davis sidelined, Chase Blackburn and Jordan Senn flanked Kuechly for most of the first-team drills. Given the injury history of Beason and Davis, signing Blackburn was a smart move by Gettleman.

• Blackburn took exception to undrafted rookie Brandon Williams going a little too fast on a special teams drill. The two got into a skirmish that lasted less than 15 seconds.

• Ron Rivera was happy to have the opening practice at Gibbs Stadium in front of an estimated crowd of 10,500. He said some of his players, notably Steve Smith, perform better in front of a crowd.

• Rookie Robert Lester got the only interception of the day for the defensive backfield when he plucked a deflected pass out of the air late in drills.

3 questions with Mike Tolbert

Q. Is this year more comfortable for you after coming in as a free agent last year?

Absolutely. Just having a year to build the experience with the guys, the camaraderie. It’s a bonus because my wife is used to the city, she’s used to the atmosphere, she’s used to the heat.

Q. Are you able to take guys under your wing with a year here under your belt?

If I can help a guy out regardless of position, I’ll tell him. It has to happen for us to be a better football team. … You have to do it or you’ll be looked at by the team as an outsider.

Q. Can the end of one season carry into the next?

I definitely think so. When I was in San Diego we ended one year 8-8 and the next year we went 13-3 winning five of the last six. It was something where we carried momentum over to the next year. With us winning five of the last six last year, it can definitely happen.

Getting to know …

RB Kenjon Barner

Height: 5-9

Weight: 190

College: Oregon

NFL experience: Rookie

The scoop: Drafted for his speed, Barner was one of the nation’s top offensive players during his senior year with the Ducks. He could see more second-team reps this training camp with Jonathan Stewart sidelined with an ankle injury. The coaching staff also plans to look at Barner in the return game.

Twitter handle: @KBDeuce4

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