The Observer's Joseph Person wrote an excellent, comprehensive story in Sunday's newspaper about the rehab work of Panther linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis, who were both lost in an eight-day span last season due to injury.
You had to read all the way to the end to see the quote that really jumped out at me, though, when Beason said of the Panthers: "The pieces are in place to win the whole thing."
Now Beason and Davis are both incurable optimists -- a good trait in athletics, where believing is often half the battle. Davis thinks he's going to come back from a third ACL surgery on the very same knee -- something no football player has apparently done before.
And Beason? He thinks the Panthers would have a "weak year" if they don't make the Super Bowl a year from now. Check out the whole quote, reprinted below:
Said Beason: "It just feels good to know that I'm off the shelf. I'm back a part of the team and I'm in the equation of getting to the top. That's what it's geared for. No more playing for winning seasons or playing to make the playoffs or to go deep in the playoffs. The pieces are in place to win the whole thing, and that's really how I feel about it. Anything less than at least an appearance (in the Super Bowl) is a weak year."
Whoa. Really?? A 6-10 team one year, a Super Bowl team the next?
Of course, the Panthers of 2002 were 7-9 and they went to the Super Bowl in 2003. But the defense will have to get a whole lot better for the Panthers to make a serious run -- without Beason and Davis, the team allowed franchise highs in points and yards in 2011.