4 ways Carolina Panthers QB Sam Darnold can hurt the Cowboys in Week 4

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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Sam Darnold
(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold must use his athleticism

One thing that’s really stood out with Sam Darnold over his first three games is sneaky athleticism. The Carolina Panthers don’t have what would be classed as a solid offensive line – especially in pass protection – so the quarterback needs to get out on the move and make things happen against a defensive front that includes stud rookie Micah Parsons and Randy Gregory.

Darnold doesn’t have to be Cam Newton.

Few signal-callers are when it comes to running the football.

But if he can display the same nimble footwork and evasiveness we’ve seen through Week 3, it might just give the Panthers half a chance of causing an upset.

The former USC star already has three rushing touchdowns to his name this season – a career-high. Putting Darnold in harm’s way like this is not ideal, but if the protection doesn’t make significant strides, he might not have a choice.

Offensive coordinator Joe Brady has done a great job of putting Darnold in a position to succeed. He’s schemed things up really well despite some ongoing red-zone concerns, but the goalposts need to move once again now that Christian McCaffrey is set to miss some time.

Allowing Darnold to express himself against “America’s Team” in the national media glare could be the making of him. And the Panthers need their quarterback to stand up and be counted more than ever.