3 critical Carolina Panthers storylines vs. the Browns in Week 1

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield and Ben McAdoo
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield and Ben McAdoo /
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What are the biggest storylines surrounding the Carolina Panthers as they begin their 2022 season against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1?

Week 1 of the NFL regular season is finally here and the Carolina Panthers host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in Bank of America Stadium.

The Panthers will look like a much different team than the year before, especially on offense. They acquired quarterback Baker Mayfield from the Browns in May, which led to him taking over the starting quarterback role.

Sam Darnold, the Panthers starter in 2021, suffered a high-ankle sprain in the preseason finale and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Matt Corral, the team’s third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, will miss the entire season due to a foot injury.

The Panthers expected to keep three quarterbacks on the roster. But in light of some bad luck, there are now only two with Mayfield and P.J. Walker.

Defensively, the Panthers will see some new and familiar faces in a larger capacity.

Brian Burns leads the way up front along with Derrick Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos, and free-agent addition Matt Ioannidis. Just about everyone in the secondary is coming back along with the addition of Xavier Woods and the much-anticipated return of Jaycee Horn.

Horn missed all but three games last season with a fractured foot, but is fully healthy now and destined to have a breakout year. He allowed just one reception in 2021 and has a good chance at contending for the NFL Comeback Player of the Year distinction if he stays clear of further complications.

The quarterback drama this offseason between the two teams overshadowed a lot of the interesting storylines heading into the season opener. It’s going to be a heated game with emotions flying, but the cooler team that focuses on performance and less on the antics will prevail.

With this in mind, here are the three biggest storylines for the Panthers entering Week 1 versus the Browns.