3 big Carolina Panthers storylines to watch vs. the Broncos in Week 12

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Steve Wilks
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Steve Wilks /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) Sam Darnold /

Will Sam Darnold make the Carolina Panthers better?

Just when all hope seemed lost for Sam Darnold, the Carolina Panthers threw one more lifeline in the quarterback’s direction. Steve Wilks opted to bench Baker Mayfield following his disappointing production at the Baltimore Ravens and with P.J. Walker still working his way back from an ankle problem, the former USC star was the only viable alternative.

This is a final chance for Darnold to prove he has what it takes to become a productive NFL signal-caller. However, there is almost no evidence to suggest improvements can be made based on what’s transpired over his career so far.

There is some intrigue to Darnold starting once again. The Panthers have a consistent offensive line – something the No. 3 overall selection in 2018 hasn’t had before – but much will also depend on Ben McAdoo’s play-calling, which has been suspect at best this season.

The Denver Broncos have a gifted defense capable of making things happen. They also boast one of the game’s best young cornerbacks in Patrick Surtain II, who was taken one spot after the Panthers selected Jaycee Horn out of South Carolina during the 2021 NFL Draft.

Darnold could make the Panthers better. But there’s also a risk of the player becoming a significant weak link on his first taste of competitive action in 2022.

The line is fine and the margin for error is non-existent. If Darnold fluffs his lines, then this is the last time we’ll ever see him suit up in Carolina.

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