3 initial observations from Sam Darnold’s preseason debut

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

What are some initial observations from Sam Darnold’s first time on the field for the Carolina Panthers in preseason Week 2?

It seems a long time since the Carolina Panthers announced a bombshell trade to acquire Sam Darnold from the New York Jets. So there was a great deal of excitement to see the quarterback taking meaningful reps in a game situation for the first time.

The former first-round pick started Saturday’s warmup game against the Baltimore Ravens at Bank of America Stadium. Something head coach Matt Rhule stated would happen despite a tough two days of joint practices with John Harbaugh’s men earlier in the week.

All eyes were on Darnold, who has the weight of the world on his shoulders in 2021. The USC product needs to make the most out of what’s clearly a fantastic opportunity in Carolina – one that will ultimately define his NFL future moving forward.

With this in mind, here are three initial observations from Darnold’s brief debut for the Panthers.

Observation No. 1

Sam Darnold
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold started well

It would be strange if Sam Darnold wasn’t nervous for his first series under center. It came sooner than expected after a superb interception from Haason Reddick, which thrust the signal-caller into action without much time to get set.

Darnold played just one series, which ended with a goal-line stand by the Ravens on fourth down. But there was a lot to like about the way the signal-caller handled the pressure.

He controlled the tempo and didn’t look overawed by the occasion. Something that Darnold can definitely build on over the next couple of weeks before the regular season.