The quarterback competition begins for the Carolina Panthers as training camp started on Wednesday in Spartanburg, S.C.
As players and personnel headed south to Wofford College for camp on Tuesday, the competition for starting quarterback began the following day for the Panthers.
After a busy offseason, Carolina added Matt Corral through the draft, and made a big splash as it traded for Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns. With these two added in the fold, Carolina brought four QBs into camp Tuesday. The incumbent starter Sam Darnold, Mayfield, Corral and PJ Walker all presumed to see reps in Spartanburg.
This gives Carolina options that put them in a better place than years past, and a better chance to break through this year after coming off a three-straight seasons with five wins. Each quarterback possesses some element that brings optimism to the coaching staff, and hope that it translates on the field. For Sam Darnold it is his work with offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo that led to a great sprint OTA. He impressed head coach Matt Rhule who said Darnold had an excellent spring. Mayfield brings playoff experience. He won a road playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers that gave the Browns its’ first postseason win since 1994. After being drafted in third round, Matt Corral brings youth to QB and is in a position to learn from veteran players as he jumps from college to the pros. Lastly, PJ Walker saw success last season in his starts as Carolina won both of them in 2021.
Rhule said in a press conference Monday that the four players will decide through their performance during camp who will likely start at QB.
At the end of the day, football players are the ultimate competitors," Rhule said. "The great ones love competition.”
It is a good problem to have for the black and blue as QB has been in limbo since Cam Newton departed, arguably before that as the former No.1 pick showed signs of regression. These four bring optimism and have some positives for each of them.
Rhule said the competition in camp is needed for the team, and he is confident that these are four solid players.
"Not many teams have four quality players like that," Rhule said. "It's going to be a lot of great competition, and to be quite honest with you, I think it will be really good for our team, the competition."
But before the rose-colored glasses are put on there are problems that must be addressed.
Darnold performed well in the start of the season as Carolina jumped to a 3-0 record, but spiraled down exponentially after. It was so bad that the Panthers signed Newton and platooned both at QB. In his career he’s thrown 54 touchdowns and 52 interceptions, last year it was a nine and 13 split. If Darnold wants to succeed the splits must improve.
Mayfield tore a labrum in his left shoulder, which is his non-throwing shoulder. A big question going into camp is his health and ability to perform. He altered his throwing pattern to account for his injury, but this sounds like a potential problem that may result in a catastrophe later.
As camp started Wednesday, these situations will be sorted out, a starter will emerge and Carolina will ascend from the cellar of the NFC South. Minicamp is not a time to worry, but for Carolina it’s not a time to celebrate either.