P.J. Walker: Grading the Panthers QB’s debut in win vs. Lions

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) P.J. Walker
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) P.J. Walker /
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P.J. Walker
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) P.J. Walker /

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Examining a strong debut for quarterback P.J. Walker vs. the Lions.

This was the opportunity that P.J. Walker had been waiting for. The Carolina Panthers didn’t like what they saw from Teddy Bridgewater‘s pregame workout to declare him good to go against the Detroit Lions in Week 11, leaving the former Temple star to assume command under center.

There was plenty of intrigue surrounding Walker, who arrived with the Panthers during free agency after a standout spell in the XFL. The quarterback was the league’s MVP frontrunner before it disbanded due to COVID-19 and reuniting with his college coach Matt Rhule enabled him to adjust well during an unprecedented offseason of disruption.

Walker has been preferred as the primary backup over Will Grier more often than not this season. But starting is a completely different ball game.

The signal-caller didn’t have star running back Christian McCaffrey to lean on after the All-Pro missed his second straight game with a shoulder injury and Carolina’s five-game slump meant confidence was at an all-time low within the roster.

As it turned out, Walker needn’t have worried.

Carolina turned in arguably their most complete performance of the season to secure a 20-0 shut-out victory over the Lions. This was the first time that the Panthers have held an opponent scoreless since 2015 and Walker played a significant part in their dramatic turnaround in fortunes.