5 things to keep a close eye on at Panthers training camp in 2021

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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Panthers training camp
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

How Sam Darnold is coping

The pressure on Sam Darnold heading into Carolina Panthers’ training camp is extraordinary. Those in power have made a substantial bet on the quarterback turning things around in a different environment, giving up three selections to acquire the former first-round pick from the New York Jets.

This move was met by excitement and dread in equal measure throughout the team’s fanbase. Darnold has the arm strength and throw-making ability to potentially become a productive starter, but the time for putting all this together when it matters most has well and truly arrived.

Darnold is getting a pass for a torrid three years at MetLife Stadium. The Panthers are going to throw plenty at him during training camp and keeping an eye on how the signal-caller is coping will tell us plenty about what to expect when competitive action begins.

There is no player with more on the line next season than Darnold. He’ll never get a better opportunity than this to prove beyond all doubt he was a product of a toxic situation in New York and if the USC product fails, it’ll spell the end of his NFL starting career.

One thing Darnold has going for him is a strong supporting staff to a level he’s not had at the next level before. But if the offensive line cannot give him enough time in the pocket, then it’s going to be a big-time complication for a quarterback that has no margin for error next season.