No ‘major decision’ on Carolina Panthers QBs Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold before pre-season 2 game, coach says

Spartanburg, Carolina Panthers — The Carolina Panthers won’t make what coach Matt Ruhl called a “major decision” on a position, particularly between quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold, until after their August 19 pre-season game in New England.

Until then, Rhule may not make a decision if one does not clearly separate from the other after two joint trainings in Foxborough, Massachusetts, and the game.

“I won’t schedule a quarterback until after we get back from Patriots week,” Ruhl said after Saturday’s brawl in which none of the mediators had a decisive advantage. “Patriots week is a real test for us. It will really show us where the men are.”

Meanwhile, the Panthers may have lost defensive end Marquis Heinz for an extended period of time with a left knee injury while working with the first team. Carolina was already weak in the position and went on tour with veteran Carlos Dunlap, who has signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jason Pierre-Paul, 33, is one of the most prominent free-agent cavaliers available. He had 9.5 sacks for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 but dropped to 2.5 last season.

In terms of midfielders, Mayfield started the scrimmage working with the first team in red zone drills and was 1 vs 3 on a drive that ended with a touchdown run by Chuba Hubbard. Darnold threw a touchdown pass to fullback Giovanni Ricci in his first practice in the red while working with the second team.

The two took on equal reps with teams one and two throughout the two-hour training period that focused on game situations. Mayfield finished 14 to 21 with a long touch pass and one interception. Darnold was 20 from 28 with a touchdown and an interception.

Both objections came with the midfielder trying to force the ball into a tight cover. Cornerback Myles Hartsfield stripped the ball from DJ Moore’s hands on a Mayfield pass that was thrown slightly behind the receiver.

“The penalty put Becker behind the chains, so he had to push the ball behind the court,” Reyol noted.

Darnold was picked up by recently acquired corner back Ty Hayes near the touchline when he attempted to force a pass while scrambling to his right.

Rhule said it was difficult to make an immediate judgment on the performance of the midfielders due to “the disparity between who you play with and who you play against.”

“The disappointing thing is that everyone got in their way,” said Ruhl. “We have to protect football.”

Reyol was also disappointed that wide receiver Richard Higgins got the ball across the goal line instead of running into the end zone after a reception from Mayfield. Higgins also did his patented celebration where he rolled a soccer ball as if it were the red carpet and then walked the fairy carpet.

The coach then attacked.

“We are not a team that gets the ball across the goal line,” said Rolle. “I told the players after you score, Celebrate, have fun, this is not a real game, but we play it like a game. But [celebrate] between the white lines.

Overall, Rhule said there’s a lot to like about Mayfield and Darnold in terms of explosive plays and long drives. With the players out on Sunday, Rolle said the staff would “really look at the bar and see who’s mastered attacking and who’s not.”

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