5 critical observations from Carolina Panthers OTAs on Wednesday

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Donte Jackson
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Donte Jackson /
4 of 5
Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold’s “best practice” since joining the Carolina Panthers

After another offseason full of speculation about his future, it’s probably been a relief for Sam Darnold to focus on football once again.

The quarterback is in a make-or-break situation with his staus as the team’s starter hanging in the balance. But he shone in front of the media during what head coach Matt Rhule called his “best practice” since joining the Carolina Panthers in a bombshell trade from the New York Jets.

"“I thought Sam was outstanding today. I thought it was Sam’s best practice probably since he’s been here. He’s throwing on time. The biggest thing I want from Sam, I don’t want the catastrophic play. I don’t want the three-interception games. It’ll happen every once in a while, but it can’t happen routinely.”"

Darnold was extremely accurate and made a few big splashes for good measure, according to those in attendance. One deep ball to second-year wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr., in particular, was a notable highlight from an outstanding showing.

It’s worth remembering that is without pads on and with almost no pressure coming his way. But this is a positive step for Darnold as he looks to prove his doubters wrong in 2022.

Darnold also made a strong offseason impression last summer and even looked the part over the first three weeks of the campaign. However, this did not translate to the pressure-cooker of competitive games further along in the season and left serious concerns about the USC product’s ability to become a productive starter.

This might also be taken out of Darnold’s hands. The presence of Matt Corral will help him from an urgency standpoint, but the Panthers have not yet ruled out acquiring another veteran piece under center that could provide them with a better chance to win now.