4 Panthers players that must impose themselves after 2022 bye week

(David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB

It only took one regular-season game for Sam Darnold to see off Baker Mayfield. The former USC star looked assured against a top Denver Broncos defense in Week 12, taking fewer risks and making his downfield throws count en route to a third-straight triumph at Bank of America Stadium.

Steve Wilks named Darnold the starter immediately after and with P.J. Walker also making his return from injury, Mayfield knew there was no chance of getting playing time and subsequently had his release request granted by those in power.

The Carolina Panthers are now almost back to square one with Darnold, whose production in 2021 forced the organization into drafting Matt Corrall and making the Mayfield trade, to begin with. It’s funny how things work out sometimes, and it appears as if the signal-caller will get a prolonged spell under center in pursuit of salvaging his once-promising career.

Although it was an encouraging outing from Darnold in his first start, fans are right to err on the side of caution. We’ve seen on countless occasions what can occur when the No. 3 overall selection in 2018 is tasked with too much, so Carolina must continue establishing the run to alleviate as much pressure as possible.

Mayfield’s cloud is no longer hanging over Darnold. But what comes next for the player will ultimately determine his future aspirations with the Panthers or elsewhere in free agency.