First Look at ... Carolina Panthers

There's big news on both sides of the ball for the Panthers, who host Green Bay in Week 2 on Sunday. The Packers are 1-0 while Carolina is 0-1 after a narrow loss to Arizona.

The Carolina Panthers may be experiencing life without their star middle linebacker for the first time since he joined the team five years ago. Jon Beason's streak of 65 straight starts is in jeopardy after suffering a serious leg injury Sunday against Arizona.

The Panthers fear that Beason has torn his left Achilles tendon and is out for the year. The Panthers didn't want to make any announcement until they have a chance to see an MRI and confirm the injury.

After the game, coach Ron Rivera wouldn't talk about the specific nature of the injury, but several players talked about the significance of the injury. It happened while Beason was covering former Panthers tight end Jeff King, who scored on a 55-yard touchdown after Beason fell down. Beason was carted to the locker room and the Cardinals went on to win the game 28-21 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

"I'm just happy and honored to be on this team because we had guys out there that were blowing out tires to fight," wide receiver Steve Smith said of Beason. "It doesn't get any better than that. You don't get guys in the locker room like that. It rarely comes and when you have a guy who does that you surely miss him, but he's admirable for his effort and I'm honored and pleased to be his teammate."

Added linebacker Thomas Davis: "The thing that Jon did so well is he was a great leader for our team. So we'll find out what it is and hopefully we can get him back soon."

It's the same leg that has given Beason fits throughout the last several months.

It was originally diagnosed as Achilles tendinitis, but Beason said an MRI later revealed he had inflammation in the bone. He had three screws inserted in his foot and was told he would need to be out three to four weeks. Beason came back in less than three weeks to play in Sunday's game against Arizona.

Beason just signed a five-year contract extension with the Panthers worth more than $50 million.

Player personnel notes

TRENDING: Cam Newton was spectacular in his long-awaited NFL debut, but came up short. Newton offered an exciting glimpse of Carolina's future, setting an NFL record for most passing yards by a rookie quarterback in his NFL debut by completed 24 of 37 passes for 422 yards. He threw for two scores and ran for another. "The great thing about it is what we saw on tape from his college days was outstanding and he carried it over as a professional," coach Ron Rivera said. "We're going to grow in this. As I said though, he has a ways to go."

BY THE NUMBERS: The Panthers had 477 total yards of offense, not bad for a team that ranked last in the league in that category last season. The problem was they only scored 21 points. "There's going to be a lot more things I can look back on tomorrow after I watch the film," Newton said. "One thing I know right now is you have to capitalize. When you're in the red zone you can't take a sack, you can't digress. You have to capitalize and get points when it matters."

Player notes

— T Jeff Otah was relieved during certain points of the game by Byron Bell. The Panthers didn't want to put too much pressure on Otah's knee and overload him with work.

— WR Steve Smith caught two touchdowns on Sunday, equaling his total from all of last season.

— S Jordan Pugh admitted botching a coverage that led to a 70-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Kolb to Early Doucet.

— RB DeAngelo Williams was held to 30 yards rushing as the Cardinals focused on making Cam Newton beat them.

— P Jason Baker and his coverage team had a crucial 89-yard punt return taken back to the house for the go-ahead touchdown.


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