3 encouraging signs from Sam Darnold’s Week 1 performance

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

Sam Darnold’s improved footwork

Watching how Sam Darnold maneuvers in the pocket when pressure inevitably comes his way is going to be one of the key elements regarding his production this season. Quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan has been working tirelessly with the USC product on footwork throughout the offseason, which was put to the test for the first time in Week 1.

Now, there will be sterner tests in terms of opposition. But the early indications are that Darnold has made some strides with his feet in recent months.

The Carolina Panthers offensive line was probably as advertised outside of stud right tackle Taylor Moton, who turned in another polished display. This makes it even more essential Darnold is able to move in tight windows and deliver the football downfield consistently to progress the chains.

Again, it wasn’t perfect.

But with the bigger picture in mind, it was highly encouraging.

Despite not having Marcus Davenport through injury, the New Orleans Saints defensive front is sure to give Carolina and Darnold all they can handle in Week 2. Especially considering they are also riding on the crest of a wave following an emphatic win over the Green Bay Packers.

Darnold has sneaky athleticism. Something he’ll need every inch of next weekend and in the games to follow.