Baker Mayfield Suffers High Ankle Sprain

OCTOBER 16: Mayfield is inactive for today’s game, as expected. That will leave Walker and Jacob Eason available to the Panthers under center today against Los Angeles. The Rams, meanwhile, will also be shorthanded at the position, as backup John Wolford is out with a neck injury. He will be replaced by Bryce Perkins.

OCTOBER 11: The second opinion the Panthers quarterback received confirmed surgery will not be necessary, Tom Pelissero of tweets. Mayfield is not expected to be placed on IR, opening the door to a return within the next four games. This season has gone about as badly as possible for the former No. 1 overall pick, but his avoiding a serious injury is obviously a plus. Walker will be expected to start the first game of Steve Wilks‘ Panthers HC tenure, with Pelissero adding Mayfield should be shelved for two to six weeks (Twitter link).

OCTOBER 10: After he exited yesterday’s game early, and donned a walking boot following the contest, it was expected that Baker Mayfield would miss at least some time. Today, it was confirmed that the Panthers quarterback suffered a high ankle sprain (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network). 

[RELATED: Panthers Fire HC Matt Rhule]

ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that Mayfield is expected to miss multiple weeks at a minimum as a result of the injury. He is in the process of gathering further information to determine his next steps, but being available for Week 6 may not be out of the question yet. The Athletic’s Joe Person reports that Mayfield “hopes” to play on Sunday against the Rams, something which is a “longshot” at this point (Twitter link).

Playing through pain would be nothing new for the former No. 1 pick, of course. Dealing with a serious shoulder injury (among other things), Mayfield suited up for 14 contests in 2021, the first season in which he missed any games in his career. His performance was clearly affected by his health status, and he put up career-lows statistically and was ultimately dealt to Carolina.

That led to optimism for his ability to resurrect his career and provide the Panthers with some much-needed stability at the position. However, he contributed greatly to the team’s offensive struggles, completing less than 55% of his passes and amassing a career-low QBR of 71.9. For that reason, Rapoport adds, fellow 2018 draftee Sam Darnold may well have already taken over the No. 1 role had he been available (video link).

Instead, Darnold, who lost out in the training camp competition to Mayfield for the starting job, has yet to play this season. He suffered a high ankle sprain of his own, which has landed him on IR. The recovery timeline of four to six weeks should have him seeing the field soon, but he has yet to be designated for return. That, coupled with the season-ending injury suffered by rookie Matt Corral this preseason, threatens to leave the team very shorthanded against the defending champions.

The only healthy QB the Panthers have on the active roster is P.J. WalkerA depth option with the team since 2020, the 27-year-old has won each of his two career starts. He will, in all likelihood, be seeking a third victory on Sunday as Carolina begins the post-Rhule era.

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