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Panthers' win costly in preseason finale

The Carolina Panthers defeated the Buffalo Bills 21-0 in Friday’s preseason finale at a costly price by losing Sam Darnold with a high-ankle sprain.

Sam Darnold suffered the injury when a Buffalo defender landed on his leg, which him to roll awkwardly on his leg.

Matt Corral also suffered a Lisfranc injury in his left foot that put him on the season-ending IR.

These two injuries limit the Panthers at the quarterback position. This leaves PJ Walker and Baker Mayfield as the only QBs on the depth chart. This leaves an immediate hole that must be filled before the Sept. 11 season opener against the Cleveland Browns.

Now, the game itself, Carolina played well. Josh Allen never took the field, but to end the preseason with a win is good for momentum.

The Carolina defense allowed the Bills to convert just three of 12 third downs, and two of the five fourth down conversions. After the preseason opener against the Washington Commanders where Carolina allowed an incredibly high conversion rate, the defense clamped down.

A player that made a lot of noise on defense against the Bills was Frankie Luvu. On Friday, Luvu led the team with eight tackles. He secured a spot on the roster, and it will be interesting to see how Carolina plays the linebacker.

In the three preseason games, Carolina allowed 121, 126 and 81 rushing yards. Carolina ranked 18th in rushing yards allowed with 1,935 yards and an average of 4.1 yards per carry. This is the weak point of the defense as the black and blue fared much better against the pass in 2021.

It was good to see Baker Mayfield operate for a full quarter in the offense with most of the starters. Shi Smith caught three passes for 32 yards and touchdowns, and he was one of the most targeted receivers. The wide out earned a spot on the roster, and showed he can be a threat in the offense.

The Panthers played without DJ Moore, Robbie Anderson, and Christian McCaffrey, three of the most critical assets in the Panthers offense. If all these players are healthy, and Mayfield plays the way he did Friday, then the offense is in good hands.

Moving forward, Carolina seems in a good spot despite the need for a third quarterback. The season opener is set for Sunday, Sep. 11 at Bank of America Stadium with a 1:00 p.m. kickoff.

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