Carolina Panthers

Injury complicates Beason holdout

SPARTANBURG -- The injury suffered by Carolina Panthers weakside linebacker Na'il Diggs isn't that serious, but it served to add another layer to what's becoming an ugly contract holdout for first-round pick Jon Beason.

Diggs pulled a hamstring Monday and was held out of the night practice, although team officials won't go beyond a diagnosis of "day-to-day."

The problem is the Beason situation has a similar time-frame, with no movement toward getting into camp evident.

Beason's agent, Michael Huyghue, has suggested the Panthers are placing an "obstacle" into the talks, which no one else in the first round had to deal with, and has accused the team of making Beason "a guinea pig." Specifically, he's talking about the allotment of the guaranteed money in the front side of the contract.

If the up-front dollars are given in the form of a signing bonus or a reporting bonus, the team can recoup the money down the road if the player tries to hold out or otherwise defaults on the deal.

Most picks now are getting the money in the form of option bonuses later in the deal -- which also help teams save a little salary cap room in the short term. The option bonuses have become the preferred method of negotiating with higher picks.

Beason alluded to the difference of opinion during an interview with Charlotte sports-talk station WFNZ.

"I'm not mad at them, but they're trying to force their hand a little bit," Beason said during an interview on the "Mac Attack" mid-day show. "They want me in, but they're trying to protect themselves now and down the road."

Beason said he had been in Charlotte last week as his agent negotiated with the team, so he'd be in place to get to Spartanburg in time to report with the rest of the team Friday. But he said nothing's happened since then.

"Since Thursday, we haven't even really accomplished anything," Beason said. "There hasn't really been much communication from their part. At this point, I'm starting to get frustrated because there doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency right now."

The Panthers haven't said anything since last week, largely because they don't want to fan the flames or risk alienating a player they want long-term.

Beason's one of just seven first-rounders yet to sign, and the lowest pick of the group.

• OL OPTIONS: With left tackle Travelle Wharton sitting out one practice each day, the Panthers are getting a

chance to look at their fallback plans at several positions.

The last two night practices, when Wharton worked on the side, the Panthers kicked left guard Mike Wahle out to left tackle and had Geoff Hangartner take Wahle's spot. They also experimented with a lineup that included center Justin Hartwig moving to left guard and Ryan Kalil snapping.

The thing that seems clear is that backup left tackle Rashad Butler's no better than the third option if Wharton's not ready, and he might not be that high on the list.

Between Wahle and right guard Jeremy Bridges, the best two backup tackles are probably the starting guards.

• THE LITTLE THINGS: Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme admitted he's much different now than when he

took over the reins in 2003.

But he said the things he's got a better grip on now are the fine points, the things he didn't realize were such a big deal earlier in his career.

"If I could pinpoint one, I think maybe taking care of my body," he said. "From 28 to 32 (years old), that's a big difference in the NFL. A lot of pounding and whatnot. I guess maybe more of a mental approach.

"When I first came here, I had never played. You just don't know how you'll stand up to a full season. After playing the last four years I feel very confident about what I can do in this league. It's a different feeling. Maybe just the experience of knowing how things happen in a game and I can tell somebody, 'That's a good route, but remember in a game it might be a little different this way.' Just little tidbits like that."

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