EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jon Beason thinks he knows what he's doing, but the Carolina Panthers' rookie linebacker admitted after his first game that he'd feel a little better with a few guys around him to do the thinking for him.
Beason had a mostly impressive debut for the Panthers in their 24-21 preseason win over the New York Giants on Saturday night, leading the team with eight tackles and clinching the game with a last-minute forced fumble. Still, he knows the training wheels were still on, as defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac has yet to throw the full playbook at him.
"I think Trgo did a great job of keeping the calls at a minimum for us young guys," Beason said. "Obviously we have an extensive playbook. So I just want to get back, stay in the playbook so I can be more consistent and more reliable.
"We have a lot of veterans. I think if I was on the field with veterans I could play every down. Because they're making calls and checks, and all that. I won't be a complete player, the player I want to be, until I know it for myself. They make it easy on me. I understand what's going on, but sometimes it starts flying."
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Part of what the Panthers were attracted to in Beason was his intelligence, so it's not as if they were worried about overwhelming him. In fact, the biggest hurdle so far has been physical, him getting into shape after his eight-day holdout at the beginning of camp.
"I just wanted to play three hard downs and get off the field," he said. "Because when they get first downs, that's when you get winded. So you just give it your all for three plays."
Beason entered the game in the second quarter, and was still on the field when the game was decided late in the fourth. It was a longer-than-normal stint for a first game, but they wanted him to work extensively in the base and nickel packages to get him caught up.
"I saw him running around making a couple of what looked like quick pops," coach John Fox said. "But until we really watch the tape and evaluate it, I know he's got a lot of work to do, and so do we. I thought he looked like, from a conditioning standpoint, looked fine."
Beason did get caught up in traffic on the Giants' first touchdown, blocked clear out of the play by a larger tight end. The play at the end -- on which he jarred the ball loose from running back Ahmad Bradshaw -- will live in the highlight reel, but he wanted to remember the game as a whole as a learning process.
"I came through chasing the football, right place, right time, and got a chance to put my helmet on the ball," he said. "I don't want to look at one play. I want to be consistent throughout the game. I thought I was pretty consistent. I feel pretty good about my performance, but it did feel good to get that strip at the end."
• NICE TO MEET YOU: Backup quarterback David Carr said he was relieved to put in a good performance in his debut with the Panthers, so his teammates can couple some tangible evidence to his extensive resume.
The former No. 1 overall pick completed 6-of-8 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown (147.4 rating), playing the second quarter before yielding to Brett Basanez.
"This is only the second team I've been on, but when you're in a situation like that, you can talk about certain things and what you're going to do, and your reputation comes before you," Carr said. "But until you actually do it, until you go out there and start making plays, that's when you start getting the respect of those guys. They might like you, but they don't have the respect for you that they would if you're not making plays."
Carr was sacked twice (no news for him after absorbing 249 in five years with Houston), but he also avoided another after reading a blitz and making a quick check to Taye Biddle for an easy touchdown pass.
• TOUGH TO WATCH: Running back DeAngelo Williams sat out Saturday's game after experiencing some stiffness in his foot and ankle during pre-game warm-ups. But the real pain was not being able to contribute to the team's rejuvenated rushing attack, which gained 112 yards on 16 carries in the first half.
"We expected that, though," he said of the performance. "It's a new offense, it's an offense me and DeShaun (Foster) love, and Nick Goings and the rest of the backs. We love this offense, we've all been a part of this style, so we're used to it, pretty much.
"We went into the game, and we were expecting this."
He wasn't expecting not to play, but the team suggested taking a cautious approach.
"It felt a little stiff, so the coaches were like they didn't want me being worried about it, so he pulled me," Williams said. "I was a little upset about it, but it's how it is. I just got off plane a little stiff, and I could never get it loosened up."
• EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers returned to Spartanburg on Sunday night for meetings, and will practice twice today at 9:10 a.m. and 6:40 p.m. ... With the win, Fox improved his stellar August record to 16-5 here (.762), winning 16 of his last 18 exhibition games. ... It didn't take long for the Panthers' coach to delve into his well-worn bag of clichés Saturday night. When asked about the team's efficiency on offense, Fox replied: "It's a good start, and that's all it is. It beats the alternative, going out there and going three-and-out." ... The only other injury suffered during the game was by cornerback Curtis Deloatch, which Fox described as "thigh." That's his way of saying hamstring lately. ... Perhaps the most encouraging number of the night was the Panthers' 6-of-8 third down conversions (75.0 percent). They were last in the league there last season, converting 31.1 percent.