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NOTEBOOK | 2013 CAROLINA PANTHERS

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Carolina Panthers’ linebacker Chase Blackburn likely to get more action on defense

Chase Blackburn enjoyed the best year of his nine-year career last season with the Giants.

Sunday against Seattle, a healthy Blackburn didn’t see a defensive snap.

The Carolina Panthers have one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL in Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly and Jon Beason, but the Panthers are hoping to get Blackburn more involved in live-action snaps moving forward.

Beason, who is coming off microfracture knee surgery in October, is still easing into his starting role, and there’s been some bumps along the way – Beason lost his angle on a couple of plays Sunday against Seattle. But Panthers coach Ron Rivera said it’s not Beason’s struggles that have prompted the coaching staff to realize they should get Blackburn involved.

“It wouldn’t be because (Beason) is struggling, because he’s got to work through it and we know that,” Rivera said. “It would be more so that Chase has got to start getting snaps. We’ve talked about that. He’s a veteran guy who understands the game and you don’t want him to ever get rusty.”

Beason played in 30 of the Panthers’ 65 defensive snaps last week, and typically came out when Carolina went to a nickel defense. He did not participate in practice Thursday, getting the day off after practicing Wednesday during install periods.

Rivera said he looks forward to the moment when Beason throws caution to the wind; much like Thomas Davis did after coming back from his third ACL surgery last year.

“I’m hoping for Jon to get to that point where he’s not as cautious,” Rivera said. “You want to tell him, ‘Just stick it in the ground and run. Trust it.’ Jon’s done a great job rehabbing, staying involved so that when he is ready to go 100 percent you’ll see the kind of player he’s still capable of being.”

Blackburn tallied three sacks, four forced fumbles and 61 total tackles in 15 starts in New York last year, all of which were career highs. This offseason, Blackburn signed a two-year contract with the Panthers knowing he would likely take a backup role in Carolina.

“It’s difficult but I knew when I signed here the situation I signed up for,” Blackburn said. “There were guys who are great linebackers – I think we have one of the better core groups around the business. I know I was the insurance policy, and that’s just the way it is. I’m happy to be that. I’m happy to step up and play.

“I think I can contribute and help out in a lot of ways, be it on special teams or defense. Whatever they ask me to do I’m going to get it done.”

Williams learning: Brandon Williams, the No. 3 tight end, is known in the locker room for his physique and on the field for his fiery personality.

Williams, who hadn’t played football for nearly two years before the Panthers signed him in the offseason, plays behind Greg Olsen and Ben Hartsock, and the undrafted rookie got just two snaps against Seattle.

The Panthers plan to take their time with the 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end, who quarterback Cam Newton has nicknamed “Swole Bones.”

“Because of the health of Greg and Ben and Richie (Brockel), he’s got time,” Rivera said. “We feel very fortunate that we may have found a diamond in the rough. He does some good things. He’s a lot of fun to watch because he takes practice very seriously. When he does things right he gets pretty fired up and kind of gets his teammates mad at him. It’s refreshing to have a guy who just wants to do it the right way.”

Williams caught two passes for 29 yards in four preseason games, and he was not targeted in his limited time Sunday. He said his route-running ability is “a little rusty” but he believes his speed and size makes up for what he may lack in technique.

Injury update: Along with Beason, RB Kenjon Barner (foot) did not participate. Rivera has said he’s hopeful Barner will return for Week 3 against the Giants.

DT Dwan Edwards (hamstring) and Hartsock were limited, but Rivera said they took the reps they were supposed to. WR Domenik Hixon, S Mike Mitchell and G Amini Silatolu participated fully in practice.

Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9
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