The Carolina Panthers were dealt a huge blow during their 28-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jon Beason was carted off the field during the third quarter with what has been termed a "serious" injury to his Achilles' tendon.
Some have suggested the tendon is torn, while others have say it is not career-threatening. Beason is having an MRI today and results will be made public soon. Either way, a "serious" Achilles injury is never good and Beason will likely be out a very long time.
If Beason does indeed miss the season because of the injury, it would be a devastating hit to a Panthers defense that surrendered 335.9 yards-per-game last season (18th in the NFL), and gave up 394 yards to the Cardinals on Sunday. Beason's loss would mean a middle of the road defense losing far and away its best player.
In Beason's absence it's likely that Dan Connor would take over for him in the middle. The fourth-year pro started part of last season when Beason was shifted to the outside. If Connor does move into the starting lineup, the Panthers will have virtually no depth at linebacker.
On top of the on-field implications, the Panthers also signed Beason to a six-year, $51.338 million contract in late July, with $25 million in guarantees. Obviously, Carolina thought the 26-year-old Beason had a lot of football left in him. A torn Achilles could certainly change that outlook.
These days, players can come back from almost any injury. Where an ACL tear used to be devastating, surgery to repair it is now fairly routine. Achilles injuries are one of the few exceptions. You can come back from an injured Achilles, but it is very difficult, and players are almost never the same afterward.
If Beason's injury turns out to be as serious as it looks, it will be a huge blow to the Panthers' defense as well as Carolina's entire franchise.