CHARLOTTE -- Carolina Panthers first-round pick Jon Beason's eight-day holdout could be coming to a close soon, as he's in town along with his agent in hopes of getting into training camp Monday.
The movement marks the first in the discussions in nearly a week, as talks broke off last Monday when Beason and his agent went on a public relations offensive before going dark. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the Panthers hadn't even seen a written proposal from agent Michael Huyghue as of late last week.
Sources confirmed that today marked the best chance of him getting to camp anytime soon. If a deal can be hammered out, he'd likely be on the field Monday morning when the team returns.
The Panthers certainly need him, as they've been beset by injuries large and small in recent days, leaving the Fan Fest practice with just five healthy and fully available linebackers.
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He's one of just five unsigned first-rounders, and the lowest pick of the lot.
Talks broke down when his agent insisted on guaranteed payments in the form of a second-year option bonus. The Panthers refuse to give them, since they can't be recouped if the player holds out or otherwise defaults on his contract. Many first-rounder have such language, but second overall pick Calvin Johnson signed a deal without an option bonus last week, a move which may have helped restart things.
• FAN FEST -- Granted, they were facing something less than their own second defense, but the Carolina Panthers' offense showed some promise Saturday.
The first offense put together an efficient, if not spectacular, touchdown drive during its 12-play portion of the Fan Fest scrimmage at Bank of America Stadium. The second defense it was facing was a cobbled-together unit because the first defense was without six projected starters because of illnesses and injuries.
Still, it put the ball in the end zone in its first drive under new offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson, with tight end Michael Gaines snagging a 1-yard pass from Jake Delhomme to cap a nine-play, 65-yard march. Delhomme hit four different receivers (including two tight ends) and DeShaun Foster had 10- and 6-yard rushes.
"It was nice, naturally, to go down and get a touchdown," Delhomme said. "That was nice. We converted a third down, ran the ball effectively. There was a different receiver touching it every time. For the most part, it didn't seem all that sloppy, and that's what you work for.
• INJURY UPDATE: The Panthers might have suffered another blow to an already struggling linebacking corps when Terrence Melton went down with what appeared to be a left knee sprain.
Linebacker Adam Seward (thumb) and rookie tight end Chad Upshaw (knee) also left the scrimmage.
Panthers coach John Fox offered no updates on their conditions.
While Melton was considered an offseason afterthought (New Orleans let him go and the Panthers signed him for the minimum), he had impressed coaches with a solid first week of camp, catching on quickly to both outside linebacker spots and looking like a core special teams player.
The Panthers were already thin at his position. Starter Dan Morgan's being held out of contact and starter Na'il Diggs (hamstring) has missed most of the week. Backup Brandon Jamison's also sidelined with a hamstring pull.
That left starting strongside linebacker Thomas Davis to work with the third string at the end of practice, they were running so short on bodies.
The only fully healthy linebackers on the roster at this point are Davis, James Anderson, rookies Tim Shaw and Mickey Pimentel and French bobsledder Phillipe Gardent. They're probably buying extra insurance as we speak, and the Panthers are probably going to have to sign some bodies to get through the next week of camp.
• EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers scrimmaged without six projected starters on defense. Defensive ends Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker were held out, along with linebackers Morgan and Diggs and safeties Mike Minter and Nate Salley. Also held out were linebacker Brandon Jamison and cornerback Derrick Strait.
The starters were replaced with, in order: Stanley McClover and Dave Ball, Seward and Anderson, and Deke Cooper and C.J. Wilson.