Beast released

Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason is having a monster season.

He leads the team with 102 tackles, was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month and ranks fifth in tackles in the league.

“I consider myself a beast,” Beason told, “so when I come out there, it’s like I’m ripping my shirt off, like the Hulk, turning into the beast.”

Every head coach wants to hear that from their middle linebacker, the leader of the defense and one of the toughest, grimiest and gritty positions in football.  

“I’m real proud of him,” says Panthers head coach John Fox. “He came in as a rookie last year, started for us a large majority of the season and I think he’s gotten better. He has tremendous football character. He has a lot of instinctive things that you can’t coach and that’s why I think he’s successful.”  

Selected by Carolina in the first round (25th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft, Beason started the first four games as a rookie at outside linebacker before moving to middle linebacker for an injured Dan Morgan for the final 12 games.

He became the first rookie in club history to lead the Panthers in tackles after producing a team record 160 in 2007, surpassing Micheal Barrow’s 158 in 1998. He also broke Lester Towns’ club rookie record of 103 in 2000.

Beason said he was shocked when he heard about the honor and did not know that the award existed. He attributes his teammates for earning the accolade.

“I got a lot of help from my teammates. Now I have something to strive for this month, so I’m just trying to keep up with Pep (Julius Peppers, who earned Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance against the Raiders),” said Beason.

“I’m just leading by example. I try not to make any mistakes and play every down hard, that way you can earn the respect of your teammates.” Beason, who had 15 tackles against the Raiders two weeks ago, has 45 tackles in his last five games. He has earned the respect of his coaches and his teammates as a leader.

“He’s kind of an emotional leader. That’s what a (middle) linebacker is supposed to be. He fills the bill. He fills the bill well and does more than a good job at it. I think he has a bright future. He’s one of our defensive leaders that we can look to for that boost and for that play,” said weakside linebacker Na’il Diggs.

Beason feels the honor says more about the Panthers’ defense, which is ranked eighth, than about his own individual accomplishment.

“When you’re winning, everybody gets individual accolades. I’m just trying to keep it going,” said Beason.

Just like a beast would.