Panthers coach Matt Rhule has been following a structured plan for his quarterbacks.
Each week starts with Sam Darnold working with the first team while Baker Mayfield takes the twos. The next day, Rhule flips the quarterbacks. Then Darnold and Mayfield share first-team reps as the week ends.
On Wednesday, Mayfield and Sam Darnold shared first-team responsibilities during a scrimmage-centric practice. Each squandered their multiple scoring opportunities on Day 7 of Panthers camp.
Neither quarterback accomplished much. Mayfield threw the day’s only touchdown, a short goal-line fade to Terrace Marshall during a red-zone session. The rest of practice featured a lot of short passes, running attempts, field-goal tries and punts. Credit the Panthers defense for winning the practice.
Let’s dive deeper into their performances.
Stats (unofficial): 9 for 14, TD
The Panthers spent most of their practice working scrimmage situations. Mayfield earned two drives, both starting on the 25-yard line, where the offense needed to convert first downs to continue. His second drive was a two-minute drill.
The two-minute series ended with a made Zane Gonzalez field goal from about 40 yards. Mayfield completed three passes on a five-play drive that ended after a short completion to running back Chuba Hubbard forced him to use his only time out before Gonzalez’s kick.
Mayfield’s first completion went for about 20 yards to DJ Moore. Moore probably would’ve been knocked out by safety Xavier Woods in a real game as Mayfield threw Moore into traffic on a deep in route, but the catch counted. Next, Mayfield connected with Rashard Higgins via a 15-yard out, which stopped the clock.
Mayfield quarterbacked with a sense of urgency and nearly kept his momentum going on the next play. He threw a high-and-away ball to slot receiver C.J. Saunders, who took too long at the line of scrimmage and was not where Mayfield wanted him to be when he threw it. Mayfield and Saunders talked briefly after the play.
With only 15 seconds left, Mayfield completed a check down to Hubbard but wasted too much time trying to set up a spike and instead called a time out with three seconds left.
Mayfield’s first series was uneventful. It lasted only five plays and ended with an incomplete pass intended for Shi Smith.
Mayfield threw the team’s only touchdown of practice during an early full-team, red-zone session.
Best throw: Mayfield’s touchdown pass to Marshall was textbook. He recognized a favorable matchup at the line of scrimmage and took it. Marshall made a clean release, stacked his defender and tracked Mayfield’s high ball. He completed an over-the-shoulder grab, knocked over the right-back pylon with both feet and celebrated with a griddy after the touchdown was confirmed.
Notable mistake: Mayfield had a clean practice and did not throw an interception for the first time in two days.
Stats (unofficial): 7 for 12
Darnold had a practice any Panthers quarterback could have had. He did nothing wrong. He did not toss an interception or fumble the ball for the first time this week, but none of his throws threatened the defense.
His final drive lasted seven plays, but he only threw three passes. There were a few plays where Darnold exhibited he’s a more natural runner than Mayfield. Darnold is starting to take off with more decisiveness. He picked up two first downs doing so.
But when the offense needed a first down, Darnold went 1 for 3 on gotta-have-it throws.
Best throw: Darnold helped the offense draw a pass interference during his first team session. The vertical shot was intended for Smith. Cornerback Chris Westry was in coverage and was flagged. By pushing the ball downfield and giving his target a chance, Darnold prolonged a drive that eventually ended with no points.
Notable mistake: Like Mayfield, Darnold had a clean but melancholy day.
Who won the day?
Neither quarterback won the day. Both protected the ball well but neither made enough plays to challenge the Panthers’ defense.
Total wins this preseason
Baker Mayfield 3
Sam Darnold 2
P.J. Walker/Matt Corral 1