Panthers Enter Week 7 With Murky Quarterback Situation

The Carolina Panthers hoped to benefit from a fresh start when they fired head coach Matt Rhule ahead of their Week 6 matchup with the Los Angeles Rams, but things didn't quite go as planned. Quarterback P.J. Walker exited late in the game with a neck injury, leading to an appearance by Jacob Eason. Now, the Panthers enter their pivotal Week 7 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with their top three quarterbacks ailing. The Panthers' quarterback depth chart is in utter disarray. Opening day starter Baker Mayfield suffered an ankle injury in Week 5's loss to the San Francisco 49ers, last year's starter Sam Darnold was activated from injured reserve on Wednesday, and Walker is still battling his neck injury.

Walker was initially suspected to have suffered a concussion in the Panther's 24-10 loss to the Rams, but he cleared protocol and declared himself ready for Week 7.  The Panthers set season-lows on offense against the Rams, tallying eight first downs and 203 yards. Walker may not be the first choice, but he could be the only choice.

Mayfield had yet to distinguish himself in his first five starts with the Panthers, netting 863 yards while throwing four interceptions and fumbling six times. Still, he was better in his one win and four losses than Walker, but his ankle injury could be disqualifying.
Darnold's mediocre play in 2021 spurned the Panthers to embark on their Mayfield experiment, but that hasn't resulted in meaningfully superior quarterback play. Darnold totalled 2527 passing yards with 13 interceptions across his 12 appearances last year, leading the Panthers to an ugly 29th ranking in points scored. But the short turnaround he is facing following his stint on injured reserve may not allow him to ramp up to a starter's workload.

Whichever quarterback the Panthers field, they'll have a tough time against a Bucs team looking to rebound from a frustrating Week 6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bucs have dominated the Panthers in recent years, outscoring their rival 150-63 across four straight wins.
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