Carolina Panthers weekly awards: Week 2 vs. the Saints

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

Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB

This was set to be a much stiffer proposition for Sam Darnold than he endured in Week 1 against the New York Jets. However, another exceptional first half and an eye-catching drive to clinch the win late on meant he came through his latest test with flying colors.

The Carolina Panthers caused a stir by acquiring Darnold this offseason after failed attempts to lure Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson. There wasn’t much to suggest the former No. 3 overall selection had what it takes to be a productive NFL starter, but after his first two games, he might have been a product of his environment in New York after all.

Darnold’s hard work during the offseason on elements of his game such as footwork is paying off in abundance. His decision-making even under duress has also come on leaps and bounds, even though his bizarre interception in the third quarter indicates there are still some adjustments needed.

The USC product freely admitted he isn’t the finished article following the Week 2 win. But few would argue this isn’t as good or perhaps even better than anyone imagined after so little time on the gridiron in preseason games.

Some stiffer challenges are coming later in the season. But if Darnold and the Panthers can continue generating some early momentum, anything is possible.