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Thursday, September 19, 2013
Return of Florence will help secondary

By David Newton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers have re-signed cornerback Drayton Florence, a league source told ESPN.com.

The veteran cornerback was released during final cuts in an effort to get Josh Thomas and Josh Norman on the field.

But with Thomas recovering from a concussion and Norman working back from a sprained MCL/deep thigh bruise suffered in Sunday's 24-23 loss to Buffalo, the team sought reinforcement.

Florence will figure into the competition at left corner, where he appeared set as the starter before being released. Thomas told ESPN.com on Wednesday he expected to be cleared to play on Thursday.

But even if Thomas can play, the Panthers are hurting on depth necessary to play the nickel package as they prepare to face a New York Giants team that is ranked No. 1 in the NFL in passing yards.

Swallow this: Here's a statistic you may find difficult to swallow with your Thursday morning latte and bagel if you're a Panthers' fan.

Jon Beason, whose return from microfracture knee surgery was supposed to bolster the linebacker corps into one of the best in the NFL, surrendered five receptions for 112 yards in Sunday's loss.

According to Pro Football Focus, which came up with the stat, 87 of those yards came after the catch.

It's not what one would expect from the three-time Pro Bowl selection, but it is an indication he's not 100 percent. Beason knows that.

"People can look into stats all they want to," Beason said. "I know I've got to play better, and that's what it boils down to."

In Beason's defense, he was put in situations he normally wouldn't be. Because of injuries to three members of the secondary, the Panthers weren't able to play nickel coverage for almost a quarter.

That meant moving linebackers into slot coverage of speedy wide receivers.

Buffalo's Steve Johnson had a 45-yard catch against Beason to set up one touchdown, with most of that coming after the catch.

"Those are plays that I want back," Beason said. "But I lost out on them. You play this game long enough, you’re going to get beat. You transition to the next play, and hopefully you make a big one and make up for it.”

Coach Ron Rivera called it all a part of Beason getting back into football shape after basically a year to recover. Asked if he could afford that in games, he said, "There is nowhere else to work on it."