3 crucial Panthers storylines to watch at the Seahawks in Week 14

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jaycee Horn
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jaycee Horn /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Can the Carolina Panthers trust Sam Darnold?

Sam Darnold‘s 2022 debut went far better than many anticipated against the Denver Broncos. The quarterback protected the football and commanded the line of scrimmage impressively, which led Steve Wilks to move forward with the USC product in Week 14 and potentially beyond.

This was a step in the right direction for Darnold, but no more than that. What comes next is equally if not more important for the signal-caller in pursuit of salvaging his career prospects in Carolina or elsewhere next season.

Wilks trusted Darnold enough to grant Baker Mayfield’s release request with P.J. Walker returning from an ankle complication. After the No. 1 overall selection spearheaded a dramatic win for the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday Night Football, the pressure will be on the Carolina Panthers to begin life without the quarterback on a positive note.

The Panthers would be wise not to put too much on Darnold’s shoulders. Their run-first mentality requires a game manager that can take advantage of openings when they arrive, which seemed to work well for all parties involved versus the Broncos.

Although the Seattle Seahawks struggle to stop the run, they’ve got some difference-makers within their secondary that can create turnovers if Darnold becomes erratic. And after so much inconsistent production throughout his career, this prospect cannot be dismissed entirely within one of the league’s most intimidating atmospheres.