NFL

Baker Mayfield to take first-team snaps in Panthers' preseason opener

By Sports Desk August 13, 2022

Baker Mayfield will be the Carolina Panthers' first quarterback to take the field when they open their preseason schedule against the Washington Commanders, the team confirmed.

Mayfield and Sam Darnold continue to battle for the starting job in Carolina.

The pair are each expected to play one series on Saturday before turning over the bulk of the game to P.J. Walker and rookie Matt Corral. 

Mayfield getting the first chance on Saturday could be an indication that he has the inside track to the starting job, but the competition remains open. 

Head coach Matt Rhule has called the quarterback competition an "ongoing process", and it would be no surprise if the Panthers used the entire preseason to evaluate before naming a starter. 

"When we know, we know," Rhule said. "If we knew for sure, we would say it and just move on with it. When we, we know.

"Every day brings new evidence. Every day brings new insights. 

"But at the same time, they're both competitors. If one guy has a strong day, the next guy fights back the next day.

"I think it's been healthy for our team. It's been healthy for the staff. I think it's been done the right way. I'm pleased with where it's at."

The Panthers open the regular season on September 11 against the Cleveland Browns, Mayfield's former team. 

The two signal-callers will be forever linked as the top two quarterbacks taken in the 2018 draft, with Mayfield going first overall and Darnold being chosen third. 

Darnold spent three seasons with the New York Jets before being traded to the Panthers for draft picks last April. He won his first three starts with Carolina last season before finishing 4-7 with nine touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. 

Mayfield started 59 career games for the Browns, and his efficient play in 2020 helped lead Cleveland to their first playoff victory since the 1994 season. 

Mayfield's injury-marred 2021 campaign was a letdown, however, and the Browns chose to pursue Deshaun Watson in the trade market. 

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