Nov 21, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers to start QB Sam Darnold against Saints

Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold will start Sunday at New Orleans, Panthers coach Matt Rhule said Wednesday.

Darnold started the first nine games this season before going on injured reserve with a broken shoulder blade.

He returned to action last Sunday, relieving Cam Newton and completing 15 of 32 passes for 190 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in a 32-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Darnold, 24, is 4-5 as Carolina’s starter and has completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 2,176 yards with seven TDs and 11 interceptions. He has also rushed for 196 yards and five touchdowns.

Newton, 32, was signed on Nov. 12 after Darnold’s injury and is 0-5 as the starter. He has completed 54.8 percent of his passes for 684 yards with four scores and five picks. The former NFL MVP has rushed for 225 yards and five touchdowns.

Backup QB P.J. Walker was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday along with pass rusher Haason Reddick.

After visiting the Saints (7-8) in Week 17, the Panthers (5-10) will close out the season at Tampa Bay on Jan. 9.

–Field Level Media

Nov 22, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (90) looks on against the New York Giants during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers’ Jason Pierre-Paul out, Panthers’ Sam Darnold active

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday listed outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul will not play in Sunday game against the Carolina Panthers because of ongoing struggles with a torn rotator cuff.

The Panthers were able to activate quarterback Sam Darnold from his shoulder injury and expect him to be ready to see action behind current starter Cam Newton.

Pierre-Paul, 32, injured his shoulder in the earlier the year, posting about it on social media Sept. 23, following a Week 2 game against the Atlanta Falcons.

In November, Pierre-Paul called his torn rotator cuff the “worst” injury of his career, though the three-time Pro Bowler has missed just two games because of it, in Weeks 3 and 4.

Darnold, 24, went on the injured reserve list prior to the Panthers’ Week 10 game with the Arizona Cardinals and has been out ever since, missing five games.

After sustaining his injury against the Atlanta Falcons Oct. 3, Darnold had one of his worst games as a professional against the New England Patriots on Nov. 11, completing just 16 of 33 passes for 172 yards with three interceptions and no touchdowns. He was shut down the following week.

Also on Saturday, the Panthers activated defensive tackle Derrick Brown from the reserve/COVID-19 list and placed cornerback Rashaan Melvin on that same list.

They also promoted five players from the practice squad: offensive lineman Mike Horton, running back Reggie Bonnafon, cornerback Madre Harper and tight end Stephen Sullivan (COVID-19 elevations) and defensive lineman Frank Herron (standard).

The Buccaneers activated running back Kenjon Barner, wide receiver Cyril Grayson and punter Sterling Hofrichter from the practice squad via COVID replacement, while also elevating defensive lineman Benning Potoa’e.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers won’t name starter, Sam Darnold likely to practice

After four consecutive defeats, the Carolina Panthers have not committed to a quarterback this week and could welcome back Sam Darnold into the fray.

Darnold has been out since a Week 9 shoulder injury, with the Panthers going 1-4 in his absence. Cam Newton was signed by the Panthers on Nov. 12 and has started each of the last four games, but has been ineffective in the passing game.

The Panthers are just 5-9 and guaranteed to finish with a fourth consecutive losing season.

With Darnold set to see a doctor Monday and possibly get clearance to return to the field, head coach Matt Rhule declined to say Monday who his quarterback will be for Sunday’s home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“If Sam is healthy, we will practice him and see kind of where he’s at,” Rhule told reporters Monday. “I think it’s a good opportunity to shake some of the rust off him and see where he’s at in the process. I can’t speculate who will be the full-time guy until we have some more information.”

Newton has not thrown for 190 yards in any of the four games he has started. He played his first nine seasons with the team, guiding them to the Super Bowl in 2015, after he was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2011.

Newton, 32, has been effective running the ball, with a rushing touchdown in each of the last four games, to go along with 71 rushing yards against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. But he has also fumbled four times in the past two weeks, losing one, and has thrown four interceptions in the last three games.

Darnold, 24, helped the Panthers to a 3-0 start, but that was followed by a four-game losing streak. He threw for 1,986 yards in nine games, with seven TDs, but also threw 11 interceptions.

Until Darnold gets clearance, the Panthers will have to look for improvement from Newton.

“We’ll continue to coach Cam, and continue to build off the good things he’s doing,” Rhule said.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers place QB Sam Darnold (shoulder) on injured reserve

The Carolina Panthers placed Sam Darnold on injured reserve Friday, one day after they signed fellow quarterback Cam Newton to a contract.

Coach Matt Rhule said Darnold will be out at least four weeks with an injured throwing shoulder. Darnold was diagnosed earlier this week with an incomplete scapula fracture.

P.J. Walker is expected to start the Panthers’ game against the Arizona Cardinals (8-1) on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.

Walker, 26, won his only previous NFL start last season, completing 24 of 34 passes for 258 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in Carolina’s 20-0 defeat of the Detroit Lions on Nov. 22, 2020.

After a 3-0 start, the Panthers have lost five of their past six, including a 24-6 defeat to the New England Patriots on Sunday. Darnold went 16-for-33 passing in that game with 172 yards, three interceptions and zero touchdowns.

Carolina acquired Darnold in April from the New York Jets in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and second- and fourth-round picks in 2022. They later shipped Teddy Bridgewater to Denver, lining Darnold up to earn his place as the franchise quarterback.

Darnold, 24, has started all nine games for Carolina in 2021 and has thrown for 1,986 yards, seven touchdowns and a league high-tying 11 interceptions with a 59.5 percent completion rate.

The Jets selected Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2018 draft.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA;  Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) looks to pass as New England Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon (9) and middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) pressure in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Panthers lose QB Sam Darnold for several weeks, sign Matt Barkley

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold is expected to miss several weeks after tests revealed he has an incomplete scapula fracture in his throwing shoulder, NFL Network reported Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, NFL Network also reported that Carolina would sign quarterback Matt Barkley off the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad.

Darnold entered concussion protocol after absorbing a big hit during a Week 8 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. He was cleared in time for the next game, but according to NFL Network, the hit likely caused Darnold’s shoulder injury as well.

PJ Walker is the No. 2 QB behind Darnold on Carolina’s depth chart. A former XFL star, Walker relieved Darnold in the Panthers’ Week 7 loss to the New York Giants last month and went 3-for-14 passing for 33 yards, taking three sacks.

After a 3-0 start, the Panthers have lost five of their last six, including a 24-6 defeat to the New England Patriots on Sunday. Darnold went 16-for-33 in that game with 172 yards, three interceptions and zero touchdowns. Cameras caught teammate Robby Anderson visibly upset and shouting at Darnold.

Carolina acquired Darnold in April from the New York Jets in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and second- and fourth-round picks in 2022. They later shipped Teddy Bridgewater to Denver, lining Darnold up to earn his place as the franchise quarterback.

Darnold has started all nine games for Carolina in 2021 and has thrown for 1,986 yards, seven touchdowns and a league-high 11 interceptions with a 59.5 percent completion rate.

Walker is expected to start Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, NFL Network reported.

Barkley, 31, has appeared in 19 games for the Philadelphia Eagles (2013-14), Chicago Bears (2016) and Buffalo Bills (2018-20), mostly in a backup capacity. He made six of his seven career starts for the Bears in 2016. Barkley owns a 58.4 career completion percentage and a 1-to-2 TD-INT ratio (11 touchdowns, 22 picks).

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) on the bench in the closing minutes after losing to New England Patriots during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers QB Sam Darnold can add MRI to list of issues

It has not been a stellar 24 hours for Carolina Panthers starting quarterback Sam Darnold.

After throwing three interceptions in Carolina’s loss to the New England Patriots, Darnold got dressed down by wide receiver Robby Anderson on the sideline, will need an MRI on his ailing throwing shoulder and did not get a vote of confidence from his head coach.

In announcing the upcoming MRI for Darnold, Matt Rhule said Monday that he doesn’t think Darnold’s injury led to the picks.

“When I look at the tape I see two bad decisions on turnovers,” Rhule told reporters.

Rhule demurred when asked if Darnold was the right QB for the team.

“Right now we’re focused on him and his health,” said Rhule, who said Sunday he wanted to watch tape before making “some big statement” about the future of Darnold vs. Carolina’s primary backup, P.J. Walker.

“We can’t have the quarterback throwing the ball up in the air. He knows that. I know that. … We just can’t keep doing this,” Rhule said Sunday. “But I need to see everything before I can probably answer that better.”

Anderson gave Darnold an earful on the sideline Sunday after throwing his third pick of the game in a 24-6 loss. Darnold also has 10 interceptions in the last six games.

“The same way if I’m slacking, I need somebody to tell me that,” Anderson said. “We hold each other accountable. That’s part of it, part of somebody being your brother, telling them what they don’t want to hear sometimes.”

Darnold finished 16-of-33 passing for 172 yards and no touchdowns against the Patriots. The shoulder injury occurred in the team’s Week 8 win over Atlanta. Darnold took a big hit on a running play in the red zone and came away with a concussion and a banged-up right shoulder.

–Field Level Media

Sep 19, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA;  Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) hands the ball off to running back Christian McCaffrey (22) in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers activate Christian McCaffrey; Sam Darnold clears protocol

The Carolina Panthers activated star running back Christian McCaffrey from injured reserve on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold was cleared from concussion protocol.

Darnold, who is also nursing a shoulder injury, is expected to be a game-time decision to start Sunday’s contest against the New England Patriots (4-4).

P.J. Walker would start for the Panthers (4-4) if Darnold is unable to play.

McCaffrey was designated to return from injured reserve on Wednesday, thereby activating a 21-day window for the club to activate him or lose him for the rest of the season.

McCaffrey has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since Carolina’s 24-9 victory over the Houston Texans on Sept. 23. He resumed practicing in a limited capacity before the Panthers elected to place him on injured reserve on Oct. 16.

An All-Pro in 2019, McCaffrey has 52 carries for 201 yards and a touchdown to go along with 16 receptions for 163 yards in three games this season. He played only three games in 2020 due to a high ankle sprain and a shoulder injury.

Darnold was placed in concussion protocol after he was injured on a rush during the fourth quarter of Carolina’s 19-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday.

Darnold completed 13 of 24 passes for 129 yards and rushed eight times for 66 yards prior to the injury. The 24-year-old has passed for 1,814 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions this season.

–Field Level Media

Oct 26, 2019; West Point, NY, USA; San Jose State Spartans quarterback Josh Love (12) celebrates with his team after beating Army 34-29 at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Panthers add QB with Sam Darnold in concussion protocol

The Carolina Panthers are signing former San Jose State quarterback Josh Love to their practice squad, multiple outlets reported Tuesday.

The move, pending a physical, comes after starting quarterback Sam Darnold entered the concussion protocol. He was knocked out of the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 19-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Love, 25, signed with the Los Angeles Rams after the 2020 draft, following a collegiate career in which he finished with the third most passing yards in San Jose State history with 7,206 yards. The Rams released him prior to the start of the 2020 season.

Darnold was injured on a scramble when he was tackled by Falcons linebacker Foyesade Oluokun. He was replaced by P.J. Walker.

Darnold, 24, completed 13 of 24 passes for 129 yards and rushed eight times for 66 yards prior to the injury. He has passed for 1,814 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions this season.

Walker, 26, made one start in 2020 and completed 24 of 34 passes for 258 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in a 20-0 win over the Detroit Lions. He is 3-of-15 passing for 33 yards in two appearances this season.

The Panthers (4-4) host the New England Patriots (4-4) this Sunday.

–Field Level Media

Aug 21, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA;  New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Jets, Panthers have QBs in the spotlight for opener

Sam Darnold has been upstaged at times during his NFL career.

The new quarterback for the Carolina Panthers might be falling into that category again going into the season opener against the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.

That’s because Darnold’s replacement with the Jets is Zach Wilson, who’ll make his pro debut after being selected No. 2 overall in the 2021 draft.

The Panthers acquired Darnold, who played his first three seasons with the Jets, during an offseason move. That resulted in the departure of Teddy Bridgewater, who spent one season with Carolina.

“With Sam, it’s a new beginning,” said Panthers receiver Robby Anderson, a sixth-year pro who spent his first four seasons with the Jets. “Lots of time, new beginnings is what a lot of us need. Turning that page to a new chapter.”

For Wilson, it might be even more special as he makes the leap from BYU to Jets starter as one of the team’s captains.

“For Zach, it’s about him and his process and it’s about him getting ready to play the best he possibly can,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said, noting this shouldn’t be a case of judging Wilson vs. Darnold.

There’s plenty new in this matchup.

Saleh makes his NFL coaching debut with the Jets after arriving from the San Francisco 49ers staff.

“I’m sure I’ll be as amped up as all heck on Sunday,” said Saleh, who was San Francisco’s defensive coordinator.

Matt Rhule is in his second season with Carolina after a 5-11 record in 2020, and, with the Jets’ new coaching staff and rookie QB, he’s facing a challenge.

“We have to prepare for everything right now,” Rhule said. “We’re preparing for a lot of different looks, a lot of different personnel. There are just so many unknowns.”

Even with the attention Wilson is receiving, the Jets could be stout on the other side despite a young defensive backfield.

“They are put together really well defensively,” Rhule said.

With a more conventional offseason, the Panthers should be much more comfortable in establishing what they want to do going into this season.

“It’s night and day from last year,” Rhule said. “We have a much more collective sense of how we want to win, how we want to do things. I think we’re way farther ahead. How much that is, we’ll see on Sunday.”

It’s also the return in many ways of versatile Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, who was one of the most productive players in the league in 2019. Last season, he appeared in just three games because of injuries. McCaffrey racked up 97 yards of total offense against the Jets as a rookie in 2017.

“To have him, I’ve been waiting for this moment,” Rhule said. “We’re excited to get him back involved.”

The Panthers also have turned to Ryan Santoso, a former New York Giant, as the kicker, replacing Joey Slye, who became too inconsistent to keep.

The Jets are waiting on word regarding the status of receiver Jamison Crowder, who remained in COVID protocol Wednesday.

With all the roster adjustments for both teams, it’s time to see how they stack up.

“It’s the real season now, real games,” Anderson said. “Play time is over with.”

The Panthers are 4-3 all-time against the Jets, winning three of four home games. Carolina’s first victory in franchise history came against the Jets in its first season in 1995 when home games were played in Clemson, S.C.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) looks to pass in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos acquire QB Teddy Bridgewater from Panthers

The Denver Broncos acquired quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Per the NFL Network, the Panthers will pay $7 million and the Broncos will pony up $3 million as part of the restructured contract to finalize the deal.

Bridgewater, 28, will vie for the Broncos’ starting job with Drew Lock. Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel are also in the quarterback room.

“Acquiring Teddy Bridgewater adds competition, experience and a strong veteran presence to our quarterback room,” Broncos general manager George Paton said in a statement. “He’s a talented player and leader who’s had success in this league in a number of different situations. Being familiar with Teddy from Minnesota, he’s going to compete and do everything he can to help us win.”

Denver has the No. 9 pick in the draft, which begins on Thursday.

The Panthers reportedly informed Bridgewater earlier this month that he can seek a trade following the team’s acquisition of quarterback Sam Darnold from the New York Jets. Carolina also has quarterbacks Will Grier, P.J. Walker and Tommy Stevens on its roster.

A former first-round pick, Bridgewater signed a three-year, $63 million deal with Carolina in March 2020 and started 15 games for the Panthers. He threw for 3,733 yards with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for the Panthers, who went 4-11 in those games.

The Panthers hold the eighth overall pick in the draft Thursday.

Bridgewater has thrown for 11,385 yards with 53 touchdowns against 36 interceptions in 59 career games with the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints and Panthers. He has also rushed for 713 yards and nine touchdowns.

Lock, 24, is 8-10 as a starter through two seasons, completing 59.1 percent of his passes for 3,953 yards with 23 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.

–Field Level Media