5 things Sam Darnold must show during extended time vs. Steelers

(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) Sam Darnold
(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) Sam Darnold /
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Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

What things must Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold show when he sees extended time on the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Friday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is the first chance for quarterback Sam Darnold to see an extended number of reps before the 2021 season. The quarterback turned out for just one series in preseason Week 2 versus the Baltimore Ravens, completing his opening pass as Matt Rhule and Joe Brady kept him out of the firing line.

Darnold has a significant opportunity with the Carolina Panthers and made his presence felt during training camp. Especially when things cranked up when the pads came on.

However, watching him work in a game environment will be the strongest indicator yet as to just what to expect from the former first-round pick following his trade from the New York Jets.

There will be a big microscope on Darnold at Bank of America Stadium. Here are five things Panthers fans want to see from their new signal-caller during the preseason finale.

Number 1

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

Sam Darnold must show leadership

While Sam Darnold is never going to be the charismatic, flamboyant leader Cam Newton was in Carolina, the coaching staff doesn’t need him to be.

Darnold goes about things his own way and has grown in confidence during the offseason. Teammates have commented on how commanding he is in the huddle, which was always going to be half the battle for the USC product in a different environment.

Putting this all together in a game situation coming up against a formidable defensive front is a stern challenge. One that Darnold needs to take head-on in pursuit of inspiring more confidence with the fanbase and the locker room alike.