Sam Darnold will miss at least a handful of regular season games, if not the first month of the season. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), the Panthers backup quarterback is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks with a high-ankle sprain.
Darnold exited last night’s game after Bills defensive tackle C.J. Brewer rolled over the QB’s ankle. The injury looked severe, with ESPN’s David Newton tweeting that Darnold’s lucky his ankle isn’t broken. Instead, Darnold is dealing with a high-ankle sprain that will sideline him for at least a month, and the injury could ultimately necessitate a trip to injured reserve.
While recently-named starting QB Baker Mayfield appears to be healthy heading into the regular season, the rest of the Panthers QB room is banged up. Darnold joins rookie Matt Corral, who is out for the season after suffering a Lisfranc injury, on the shelf. This means P.J. Walker, who was once believed to be on the roster bubble, is the team’s temporary backup quarterback. The Panthers entered the preseason believing they’d be rostering three QBs (Mayfield, Darnold, Corral), and with the team down to only two healthy arms, it remains to be seen how the depth chart will look come Week 1. A lot of it depends on the health of Darnold, according to head coach Matt Rhule.
“We’ll have to wait and see,” Rhule said about making any additions (via Newton). “Sam’s a tough kid. He usually comes back really quickly. I’d say nothing’s off the table.”
Speaking of the team’s now-depleted depth at quarterback, Rhule was also asked about the possibility of adding former MVP Cam Newton back to the group.
“You guys know my feelings on Cam, but probably too early to say anything about that,” Rhule said (via Joseph Person of The Athletic on Twitter).
After spending the 2020 season in New England, Newton returned to Carolina last season and started five games.