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It's been hectic, a lot of learning," Connor said.
Connor started to show the ball-hawking skills that helped him make 145 tackles as a senior, the second most in Penn State history. He had a team-high eight tackles in Carolina's preseason opener at the New York Giants, then had six more after taking over for Beason in the first quarter Saturday.
"Having the middle linebacker spot open, I've got to be more vocal, and try to fill the leadership role that Jon did, at least on the field," Connor said. "That's a hard one, so I've got to work on that one."
Beason, who quickly became one of Carolina's defensive leaders, calls the defensive signals. The soft-spoken Connor will likely have that duty in Saturday's game against Baltimore.
"It's a lot of thinking and a lot of talking on the ball," Connor said. "So it's a big role, it's an important role. It's something you have to study a lot and be confident in when you get out there."
All Connor has to do is replace a guy who has recorded 319 tackles in two seasons with the Panthers. Uncertain how long the job will last, Connor aims to prove the Panthers made the right choice with their draft gamble a year ago.
"I've got the right mindset," Connor said. "It's a tough situation, but I'm looking forward to it."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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