5 Carolina Panthers under the most scrutiny at 2021 training camp

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jeremy Chinn
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jeremy Chinn /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB

Sam Darnold will be scrutinized more than any other player. Not only because he plays the most important position on the field, but also because the Carolina Panthers have bet big he is the quarterback to fill the void left by Cam Newton long term.

Much has been made of Darnold’s lack of help or production with the New York Jets. All this will be a thing of the past once he gets the pads on at camp, so whether he can treat this as a clean slate will go a long way to determining his chances.

Darnold has the arm strength, a previous relationship with Robby Anderson, and an All-Pro running back alongside him in Christian McCaffrey. A potentially elite supporting cast he can utilize at will.

This is nothing new for Darnold, who got a crash course in scrutiny under the glaring New York media spotlight. Although it won’t be nearly as pressurized in Carolina, that doesn’t mean the stakes are not higher for the former first-round pick.

Why? Because there are no more excuses.

Of course, the offensive line needs to play above or at least up to expectations. Darnold’s every throw will be under the microscope at training camp and this will be a tremendous opportunity to build momentum ahead of a pivotal Week 1 game against his old team.