Jon Beason’s hamstring is sufficiently strained that he won’t play Saturday night.
But what the Panthers are doing without him’s a bit revealing.
After Ron Rivera announced after practice that Beason would be held out against the Texans, Rivera said Jason Phillips would start in the middle in his place, according to Steve Reed of the Associated Press.
That means they’re leaving first-round pick Luke Kuechly on the weakside for now.
That tells you a few things. One, they must feel secure enough in Beason’s comebacks from the short-term hammy and the long-term Achilles tear that they don’t want to uproot nearly two weeks of training camp installation. Two, Kuechly’s showing himself in practice to be more active than some had expected.
While the Panthers hoped Beason and Thomas Davis (who isn’t expected to play Saturday either) would return to for this year, they drafted Kuechly ninth overall in case either of them didn’t. Even when healthy, Davis is slated for situational duty this year, clearing the way for Kuechly to play every down on the weakside.
Kuechly may still be a long-term starter in the middle, but they like what they’ve seen so far outside, giving them options.