Jon Beason Injury: Why Carolina Panthers Will Be Devastated by Loss of LB

Cian FaheyFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL,  Jon Beason of the Carolina Panthers poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers' Jon Beason went down last night in the team's close loss against the Arizona Cardinals when chasing down a tight end.

Beason went down without any player being near him which is always a very worrying situation.

There are reports suggesting that Beason has a serious Achilles tendon injury which would undoubtedly end his season. This injury comes at the worst possible timing for the Panthers for many reasons both on the field and off of it.

On the field he was undoubtedly the team's best player, not least their best defender. He has a relentless motor and brings an intelligence and physicality to plays that cannot be simply replaced by a backup.

He was the centerpiece in a part of the defense that was the team's biggest strength. He, James Anderson and Thomas Davis had just been reunited after Davis had missed more than 20 straight games because of knee injuries.

Without Beason the team is once again not at full strength with a group that could be one of the best in the league when healthy. The Panthers defense was going to rely heavily on that linebacking corp to make an impact for them this year that was lacking last season.

The Panthers struggled against the run last year and Beason was obviously going to be looked to to fix that this year. They had brought in Ron Edwards to fortify the defensive line in front of him but he is already gone for the season too. This only compounds Beason's injury and gives the team a soft spine.

Had this happened last season it would not have been a major issue because the Panthers basically knew from day one they wouldn't be competing in the NFC South. They likely wouldn't have been this year either, but with Cam Newton's record-breaking debut there was a lot of optimism around the team.

If Newton was leading the offense and Beason the defense, the Panthers had two young rising stars making an impact that they could use to inspire their roster this year. Now, however, the defense will likely struggle a lot more than anticipated before training camp and the offense's good work will go to waste.

Beason wasn't just a linebacker to the team, he was a leader and a captain. He was looked to by the rest of the players and expected to make big plays on a regular basis. There is certain to be a certain amount of deflation in the defense around him after his loss.

Off the field, Beason's leadership will be missed also, but the team is hurt by the fact that they signed him to a $50 million contract during the offseason with $25 million guaranteed. Now there is no guarantee either way if Beason's long-term prospects will be hurt by this injury, but it's never a good thing to have an injury so soon after investing so heavily in a player.

The Panthers obviously weren't going to be competing for any Super Bowl this year, but Beason is the type of player that wills those around him to be better with his leadership both on and off the field. His determination to be great despite playing on a struggling team in recent years makes him a leader.

Losing him for the season will devastate this franchise.