Panthers gambling with position switch for Beason

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Beason also stressed that he’s not finished playing middle linebacker. He said four of five defensive packages have him in the middle, mostly when extra defensive backs are used on passing downs.

“It all depends on what kind of game it is,” he said. “If we jump up seven to 10 points, they’re probably going to go three or four wide receiver sets where I’m probably going to be the (middle linebacker) the whole game.”

But at the start of games he’ll be on the outside. He said he felt OK playing there in last week’s exhibition opener at Baltimore, taking issue with ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, who criticized him when he appeared to be out of position.

“I didn’t have any mentals as far as my responsibility,” Beason said. “It was a little slippery out there. I slipped on one play where Gruden referred to me as a fish out of water. I appreciate it. It’s just a little added motivation, more fuel to the fire. When I see coach Gruden I’ll let him know how I feel about it.”

You can change Beason’s position, but can’t take away the intensity that’s helped him collect 488 tackles in three NFL seasons.

“This is just a part of football,” Beason said. “Somebody goes down and the No. 2 guy steps up and performs when it’s his turn.”

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