Beason offers insight
By Mike Cranston
CHARLOTTE ó Jon Beason is the most sought after Carolina Panther these days, but not for going from rookie holdout to top tackler and team leader in less than two years.
It’s because linebacker is apparently the only person in the organization who’s been in contact with Julius Peppers, the disgruntled and absent four-time Pro Bowl defensive end.
“I talked to him last weekend,” Beason said at the conclusion of the team’s final offseason workout. “He said he’s doing good, he’s training and he’ll be ready to go when training camp gets here.”
So despite publicly declaring he wants to play elsewhere, his refusal so far to sign a one-year, guaranteed tender worth $16.7 million and his failure to attend one offseason workout, Peppers will show up for the start of training camp on Aug. 2?
Beason indicated Peppers hadn’t committed to that.
“I’m hoping it’s the first day,” Beason said. “When I talked to him I said, ‘Hey, if you come in, at least come in on the first day. Don’t be like me.’ ”
The bizarre offseason dispute of Peppers vs. Panthers was hard to overlook as Carolina’s offseason program concluded Tuesday with a conditioning test that left players hunched over and dripping with sweat.
Coach John Fox then gathered his players and reminded them of January’s ugly home playoff loss to Arizona, which overshadowed Carolina’s 12-4 regular season and NFC South title.
“It’s like that elephant in the room,” said Fox, who was referring to the 33-13 loss to the Cardinals.
Peppers missed the offseason conditioning program in February, three-day minicamp in May and all 12 optional workouts this month as new defensive coordinator Ron Meeks installed a system designed to take advantage of the freakishly athletic Peppers and his speedy teammates.
“Julius is a real smart player, so I don’t think he’s going to have any troubles that way,” Fox said. “I don’t think it’s a huge issue because as far as linemen, I think they’re going to get the bulk of their work in training camp.”
Fox didn’t answer directly when asked if he’d been assured by Peppers or agent Carl Carey that the right defensive end will be at training camp.
“This has been worn out as a subject, but I anticipate he’ll be at camp,” Fox said.
General manager Marty Hurney added only that “nothing’s changed” with Peppers.