CHARLOTTE — Jon Beason had not participated in practice this week before Friday, but Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the starting middle linebacker kept his head in the game all week long.
Nursing both knee and shoulder injuries, Beason had limited participation at Friday’s practice, and he is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game versus Atlanta.
“The biggest disappointment for him was in the Giants game not playing as well as he’s capable and trying to play with a bad shoulder and bad knee,” said Rivera, who added that Beason was spot-on in his reps Friday. “And at some point we as coaches got to pay more attention and probably relieve him or give him a break just to protect him from himself. He’s a warrior.”
Along with Beason, linebacker Thomas Davis (calf) and defensive end Greg Hardy (thumb) also are questionable for Sunday.
Hardy’s right hand is already in a cast, and he likely will have it wrapped further before the game to protect his broken thumb, should he play Sunday.
“We’re planning on playing him. We’ll see how he is (Saturday),” Rivera said.
Jonathan Stewart is listed as probable to see the field for the first time since Sept. 16. The fifth-year back has been battling a toe injury that kept him out of the Giants game, but he was in full pads Friday.
Guard Mike Pollak is out for a third straight game with a shoulder injury. Defensive end Antawn Applewhite is doubtful with a knee injury and did not participate in practice Friday, but he traveled with the team to Atlanta.
Neblett nears return
Defensive tackle Andre Neblett is due to rejoin the Panthers next week following a four-game suspension.
But Rivera isn’t sure what he will do with him just yet.
Neblett tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance in the offseason and was suspended for the first four games. In the preseason, Neblett suffered from hypertension and high blood pressure and was sidelined from practice.
Rivera said those issues are still lingering, and the Panthers will use the two-week grace period granted by the league to decide where Neblett fits in with the defensive line.