4 final thoughts ahead of first practice at Panthers training camp in 2021

(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold needs to stamp his mark on the Carolina Panthers

Trading for Sam Darnold doesn’t come with many guarantees things will get better at the quarterback position. The former first-round pick does have far more upside than Teddy Bridgewater – who is now on the Denver Broncos – but this is a big leap of faith from the Carolina Panthers and one that could go either way.

Darnold went through a dismal three-year spell with the New York Jets and it was clear from very early on that the organization was never truly convinced in his ability. Carolina is banking on the USC product making a drastic turnaround with far more weapons to utilize, with Christian McCaffrey’s presence in the backfield something else that the signal-caller has going for him.

Getting off on the right foot at training camp is the first objective for Darnold. He’ll be under the microscope from the moment he steps onto the field and he’ll only get one chance to make a good first impression.

The former No. 3 overall selection received praise for his command of the huddle during the early offseason program. Darnold has to build on this to give Carolina’s loyal fanbase a cause for optimism, with many still questioning the decision to bring him on board.

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Darnold isn’t an idiot. He knows exactly what’s at stake next season and if his production at training camp leaves more questions than answers, the player will already be fighting a potentially losing battle.