Aug 26, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) scores a touchdown while defended by Buffalo Bills cornerback Jordan Miller (32) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers to start Sam Darnold at QB vs. Broncos

The Carolina Panthers plan to start Sam Darnold at quarterback in Sunday’s Week 12 contest against the visiting Denver Broncos.

Darnold has yet to play this regular season after going down with an ankle sprain late in the preseason. He was activated off injured reserve to resume practice in October.

Darnold will be the third different player to start at quarterback this year for Carolina (3-8), following Baker Mayfield and P.J. Walker. According to the Panthers, interim coach Steve Wilks made the decision Tuesday and informed Darnold and his fellow quarterbacks.

Mayfield started the first five games, then returned to the lineup after recovering from an ankle injury. Walker started Weeks 6-10 and went down with his own ankle injury.

Mayfield went 21 for 33 for 196 yards and two interceptions on Sunday in a 13-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

In 2021, his first season in Carolina after a trade from the New York Jets, Darnold played in 12 games (11 starts) and completed 59.9 percent of his passes for 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The former No. 3 overall draft pick from 2018 missed five games with a shoulder injury.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule reacts in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Panthers coach Matt Rhule hopes for ‘another chance’

Former Panthers coach Matt Rhule welcomes another chance to coach and knows a few changes he would implement should he get another spin at the wheel.

Rhule was fired after starting 1-4 after two-plus seasons and an 11-27 record in Carolina.

“It didn’t end the way I wanted it to. But I’m proud I never lost the locker room,” Rhule said Tuesday in an NFL Network interview. “I’m proud those guys fought and stood up for me til the very end. I hope I get another chance to coach. I’d do some things better football-wise.”

Rhule said he didn’t have strong enough relationships with players in his first two years in the NFL.

The Panthers are 3-8 and would currently have the second pick in the 2023 draft if the season ended Tuesday. Carolina plays the Denver Broncos on Sunday, but has yet to identify a starting quarterback — an issue that helped deck Rhule’s run as Panthers’ coach.

Rhule said the Panthers should take a long look at current interim head coach Steve Wilks.

“Steve Wilks deserves a chance to be a head coach in the (NFL). He’s a leader of men,” Rhule said. “And if this league needs 1 thing, if football needs 1 thing, we need diversity in our coaching hires. We need diversity in coaching searches. I think Steve’s done a really nice job.”

The Panthers owe Rhule $40 million as part of the contract he signed to leave Baylor and take over in Carolina.

–Field Level Media

Aug 13, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) and Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) participate in warmups prior to the game against the Washington Commanders at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers undecided on QB1 for Week 12

Interim head coach Steve Wilks said the Panthers are not ready to name a starting quarterback for Week 12.

Wilks was still smarting from Sunday’s 13-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens when he met with media on Monday. The Panthers and Ravens were tied 3-all most of the fourth quarter, but three turnovers late in the game handed the Ravens a victory.

“It’s tough to say right now,” Wilks said of how the Panthers can fix the offense.

There will be no official word from the Panthers (3-8) until Wednesday, Wilks said, adding that he plans to use time to review film before picking a starter to face the Denver Broncos (3-7) this week.

Mayfield started the first five games, then returned to the lineup after recovering from an ankle injury to replace P.J. Walker. Walker went down with his own ankle injury but multiple reports indicate there are veterans in Carolina pushing to give Sam Darnold a shot. Darnold was on injured reserve with an ankle issue until he resumed practice in October.

Mayfield was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter, once on a tipped pass, and said the answer is only found when looking beyond the team’s record.

“Look at how we’re losing. You have to fix those things,” Mayfield said. “It’s like (Hall of Fame coach Bill) Parcells said, you have to learn how to stop beating yourself before you learn how to win. Right now, I think today’s a pretty good example of that. We have to fix a lot of our own mistakes before we can even be in a position to win.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs with the ball against Carolina Panthers safety Xavier Woods (25) for a first down during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens defeat Panthers in low-octane contest

The Baltimore Ravens controlled the game on defense and scored 10 points in a 71-second span to break a fourth-quarter tie on the way to beating the visiting Carolina Panthers 13-3 on Sunday.

Lamar Jackson scored the game’s only touchdown on a 1-yard run two plays after a Carolina turnover.

The Panthers, who committed three turnovers, were limited to 205 yards of total offense, with only 36 of those coming on the ground. Fifty of the yards came on their last possession.

Jackson completed 24 of 33 passes for 209 yards with an interception. He rushed for 31 yards, so he was involved in a majority of the team’s 308 yards of total offense.

Carolina quarterback Baker Mayfield was 21-of-33 passing for 196 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked four times.

Justin Tucker’s 37-yard field goal broke a 3-3 deadlock with 8:27 remaining.

The Panthers (3-8) took two snaps on their next possession, with Shi Smith fumbling near the end of a short pass play and Baltimore’s Marlon Humphrey recovering.

The Ravens (7-3) converted by covering 31 yards in two plays, the first a 29-yard run by Kenyan Drake. It marked Baltimore’s seventh possession that included snaps in Carolina territory, but the first of those to result in a touchdown.

The Panthers’ next possession went awry with two sacks so they gave the ball back to Baltimore. The Ravens failed to convert because of third-down sack of Jackson, but by then there was less than three minutes remaining.

The Ravens, who hadn’t played in two weeks, weren’t fluid on offense. Drake ended up with a game-high 46 rushing yards on 10 carries.

The games first eight possessions concluded with seven punts and an interception.

Tucker’s 32-yard field goal on the last play of the first half marked the only scoring for either team before halftime. It came at the end of a 76-yard drive that involved 15 plays.

The Panthers pulled even in the third quarter on Eddy Pineiro’s 32-yarder with 8:07 remaining.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) and Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews (89) celebrate after a touchdown during the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews active vs. Panthers

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and tight end Mark Andrews are listed as active for Sunday’s home game against the Carolina Panthers.

Jackson missed Friday’s practice due to illness for the Ravens (6-3). He was listed as questionable on the injury report along with Andrews, who is returning from a one-game absence due to knee and shoulder injuries.

While Jackson and Andrews are in the clear, the Ravens listed inactives are: running back Gus Edwards, cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis, linebacker Josh Bynes, guard Ben Cleveland, tight end Charlie Kolar and linebacker David Ojabo.

The Panthers (3-7) listed the following players as inactive for Sunday’s game: quarterback P.J. Walker, defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis, wide receiver Rashard Higgins, safeties Juston Burris and Myles Hartsfield, tight end Giovanni Ricci and tackle Larnel Coleman.

–Field Level Media

Nov 10, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) warms up before the start of the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Baker Mayfield visits old rivals, leads Panthers against Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens would like to pick up where they left off before the bye week.

The Carolina Panthers would just like to pick it up.

The Panthers will hold some momentum going into Sunday afternoon’s game in Baltimore.

The Ravens (6-3), who are fresh off an open week, have a three-game winning streak.

“We just have to go play our best game on Sunday and that’s what we’re going to try to do,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said.

The Panthers (3-7) have had more time to prepare than they typically do following a Nov. 10 victory against the Atlanta Falcons.

Still, there’s a change in the works at quarterback because of yet another ankle injury. Baker Mayfield will return to the starting role despite the team winning its last game. That’s because PJ Walker is out with an ankle sprain. Mayfield has been out recovering from a high ankle sprain.

As Cleveland’s starting quarterback playing in the same division as the Ravens, Mayfield posted a 3-5 record against Baltimore. He threw 13 touchdowns against nine interceptions in those games.

“We’ve had some incredible battles with him when he was with the Browns,” Harbaugh said. “We know what he’s capable of doing. We understand his strengths as a quarterback.”

Mayfield said the Ravens always seem to have a full roster of defensive playmakers.

“It comes down to players, it always has,” Mayfield said. “They have great players on defense.”

The Ravens will try to take advantage of the change, though, as they hope to expand their plus-7 turnover ratio against a Carolina team that has had revolving starting quarterbacks. Sam Darnold will be Mayfield’s backup.

“Baker has been in that (division) and familiarity with the Ravens and that defense,” Carolina interim coach Steve Wilks said. “We’re going to create a good game plan and try to put our guys in position to be successful.”

In starting the first five games this year, Mayfield threw for four touchdowns and four interceptions. Wilks said the Panthers have kept the basic scheme on offense. In beating the Falcons, that consisted of plenty of handoffs to D’Onta Foreman 31 times. Foreman produced 130 yards and a touchdown and boosted his yards-per-carry average this season to 4.7.

He had 79 carries and four scores in four games since the Panthers traded running back Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers.

Even with a ground game chugging along, it could be hard to combat the well-rested Ravens, who are 16-6 since 2003 when following a week off. They beat NFC South teams Tampa Bay and New Orleans in their last two outings.

“With each game you build confidence, but it’s a new week every week,” Baltimore rookie center Tyler Linderbaum said. “You’re only as good as your last snap.’

Linderbaum has been a steady influence on the offensive line. That has enabled quarterback Lamar Jackson to roll up a career-best 7.4 yards per rushing attempt. The Ravens have the second-best rushing offense in the league with 168.1 yards per game on the ground.

Harbaugh said tight end Mark Andrews is among the players who missed Baltimore’s most-recent game who could be ready to be back in action. He has a team-best 42 receptions and five touchdowns.

“Mark is Mark, nothing changed,” Jackson said of Andrews back in the main practice mix.

The Ravens might be able to expose Carolina’s secondary, which will be without cornerback Donte Jackson, who suffered a torn Achilles in last week’s triumph against Atlanta. That could push C.J. Henderson into a starting role. The problems are compounded with Myles Hartsfield, who has started seven games in the secondary, missing Wednesday’s practice with an ankle injury.

“We definitely are going to have our hands full,” Wilks said.

–Field Level Media

Nov 10, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws a pass during pregame warmups against the Atlanta Falcons at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers name Baker Mayfield starting QB in Week 11

Baker Mayfield is returning to starting quarterback in Week 11.

Erstwhile starter PJ Walker suffered a high-ankle sprain in last Thursday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons and won’t be available against the Baltimore Ravens this week.

Sam Darnold will back up Mayfield, Panthers interim coach Steve Wilks said Monday.

Walker played the entire game against the Bengals, completing 10 of 16 passes for 108 yards. Walker started the past five games after Mayfield injured his ankle, but then remained the starter even after Mayfield was healthy enough to return. Walker went 2-3.

Mayfield is 1-4 as the starter this season, completing 56.6 percent of his passes for 1,117 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions.

Darnold just came off injured reserve and was activated last week after suffering a high-ankle sprain during a preseason game. He has not appeared in a game this season.

The Panthers (3-7) visit the Ravens (6-3) on Sunday. The Ravens are coming off their bye week. Mayfield is 3-5 lifetime against the Ravens, making those starts as quarterback of the Cleveland Browns.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson (26) returns an interception for 30 yards and a touchdown in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers CB Donte Jackson (Achilles) to miss rest of season

Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson sustained a torn Achilles tendon in Thursday’s 25-15 victory over the Atlanta Falcons and will miss the rest of the season.

The Panthers said the severity of the injury was detected during an MRI exam on Friday.

Jackson, 27, was injured during the later stages of the contest and was wearing a boot in the locker room after the contest.

He was back in action after sitting out the previous week’s 42-21 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals due to a tender ankle.

Jackson had two interceptions this season — returning one for a touchdown — and made 35 tackles in nine games.

Jackson has 14 career interceptions in 64 games (60 starts) over five NFL seasons. He has recorded 244 tackles, two forced fumbles and one sack.

Jackson signed a three-year, $35.18 million deal in March to remain with Carolina.

The Panthers (3-7) next play on Nov. 20 when they visit the Baltimore Ravens.

–Field Level Media

Nov 10, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA;  Carolina Panthers wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (15) with the ball as Atlanta Falcons cornerback Rashad Fenton (21) defends in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

D’Onta Foreman, Panthers run all over Falcons

D’Onta Foreman ran for 130 yards and a touchdown and the Carolina Panthers avenged a loss sustained 11 days earlier by defeating the Atlanta Falcons 25-15 on a rainy Thursday night in Charlotte, N.C.

Panthers quarterback PJ Walker threw for 108 yards on 10-for-16 passing in a game that was close but didn’t quite have the drama of Atlanta’s overtime victory in the first matchup between the NFC South teams on Oct. 30.

Eddy Pineiro, who missed two potential winning kicks in the game at Atlanta, booted four field goals for the Panthers (3-7). Foreman had 31 carries to spearhead a Carolina ground game that produced 232 yards on a whopping 47 carries.

Marcus Mariota threw for two touchdowns and rushed for a team-best 43 yards for the Falcons (4-6), who’ve lost two games in a row. He was 19-for-30 for 186 yards in the air with an interception.

Trailing 22-15, Atlanta got the ball back with 2:33 to play, but two sacks on the ensuing possession doomed the Falcons. The Panthers recorded five sacks.

The Panthers built a 13-0 lead over the game’s first 28-plus minutes with Pineiro making field goals of 46 and 49 yards on either side of a Laviska Shenault Jr. 41-yard scoring run.

Atlanta didn’t score until Younghoe Koo’s 33-yard field goal on the last play of the first half.

Still, it was a big contrast from the last game for Carolina, which trailed 35-0 at the break Sunday at Cincinnati in an eventual 42-21 loss.

The Falcons perked up in the third quarter, with Mariota’s 7-yard pass to Drake London giving them their first touchdown and drawing them within four. Koo missed the extra-point kick.

Foreman’s 12-yard touchdown run with 1:51 left in the third quarter also was followed by a missed extra-point kick.

Pineiro made amends with a 40-yard field goal for a 22-9 lead with 9:22 left in the game.

Mariota threw 25 yards to KhaDarel Hodge for a touchdown with 2:56 to play, but Koo’s extra-point try was blocked.

The only scoring from that point was Pineiro’s insurance 37-yard field goal for the game’s final margin with 10 seconds to play.

–Field Level Media

December 19, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Jake Matthews (70) during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons’ Jake Matthews leaves for birth of child, to play vs. Panthers

Atlanta Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews is expected to play in Thursday night’s road game against the Carolina Panthers after leaving the team for the birth of his son.

Matthews, 30, flew from Charlotte, N.C., to the Atlanta area on Thursday morning after his wife, Meggi, went into labor.

The baby was born in the afternoon so the Falcons began working on getting Matthews back to the team before game time.

The NFL Network reported that Falcons owner Arthur Blank was sending his private plane to Gainesville, Ga., — located about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta — to pick up Matthews and bring him to Charlotte.

Matthews has missed just one game in his nine-year NFL career and that absence was in Week 2 of his rookie season in 2014. He has since played in 141 consecutive games, counting five postseason contests.

Matthews was a Pro Bowl selection for the Falcons in 2018. He was the sixth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft out of Texas A&M.

He is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, a 14-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman who played for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans from 1983-2001.

–Field Level Media