Saturday, August 13, 2022

2022 NFL training camp: Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold alternating days as Panthers QB1 to start practice

Panthers training camp is underway, and coach Matt Rhule isn’t anywhere close to declaring a starting quarterback for 2022. On Tuesday, he told reporters that he’ll let the players make the decision for him with their performance. On Wednesday, he revealed that both Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold will alternate days as the No. 1 to open camp, suggesting it’ll “be a long working process” toward the final decision about Week 1’s signal-caller.

“The first two days (of camp), we decided to have — Sam, for Day 1, took all the one reps with the one group,” Rhule said. “Baker took all the two reps with the two group. Tomorrow (Thursday), we’ll have Baker take all the reps with the first group, Sam take all the reps with the two group. And the thought process being, we really wanted our guys to have the ability to work with the same receivers for the entire day. We wanted those guys to have consistency at receiver for the first two days, and then we’ll start to mix things up a little bit more.”

It’s unclear whether the QBs will alternate starting reps for the duration of camp, but Rhule emphasized that he doesn’t expect a front-runner to emerge in the open competition until much closer to their Sept. 11 regular-season debut.

“It’s gonna take a while,” he said. “It’s gonna be a long working process.”

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Darnold, acquired via trade from the Jets last offseason, said Wednesday he enjoyed Mayfield’s presence to start camp, not only because of the added competition he brings to the position but because of their early camaraderie.

“Whenever you have competition, it elevates the play of others,” Darnold told reporters. “(And) I feel like Baker already has a really good command right now of the offense, as do I. So it’s fun to kind of bounce ideas off each other, too.”

Mayfield, meanwhile, who is still learning the Panthers’ system after arriving in a trade from the Browns earlier this month, downplayed the hurdles he faces as a veteran brought in to potentially take over the team’s most important position.

“There’s a lot of responsibility for sure,” he said. “But this is what we signed up for. We signed up to play this game that we love, and be in a leadership role, and to really get guys to gravitate toward us, lead them and get them better and push people. If you can block out the negativity on the outside and focus on your guys in the building … that’s what it’s all about, and that’s where you see success come from.”

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