Baker Mayfield starts for Carolina Panthers and passes his first major test – Yahoo Sports

Baker Mayfield starts for Carolina Panthers and passes his first major test - Yahoo Sports

Baker Mayfield got the initial nod for the Carolina Panthers in their first preseason game on Saturday. Against that distinction, he marked an important box against the Commanders from Washington — looking healthy, confident and (mostly) sharp in his only drive of the day.

That drive ultimately stalled on a botched snap exchange, letting the Panthers kick a field goal in what amounted to a modest debut for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. In that brief appearance, Mayfield was 4-of-7 passing for 45 yards, as well including one drop that hit wide out in the hands, although it would have been a difficult catch.

Whatever the case, it was a much-needed positive start for a quarterback in competition with Sam Darnold – two players who are both trying to get their careers back on track in the final seasons of their rookie contracts. For his part, Darnold was able to take advantage of a short field following a Washington turnover, throwing a nice 8-yard touchdown to a wideout. Rashard Higgins off his back foot when facing pressure. Darnold sat out the rest of the game following his two drives.

For Mayfield, the solid start was probably his first positive moment since a negative divorce with the Cleveland Browns this offseason. His to trade to Carolina was triggered by the Browns trading for a embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson, leaving a vocal Mayfield twisting in the wind as he repeatedly and publicly asked to be dealt. The result was his final low-risk acquisition from Carolina, along with some much-needed simplicity for the quarterback.

That was on display in subtle ways on Saturday. First and foremost, it was a brief glimpse showing the Panthers staff that Mayfield is a healthy version of himself on the field — something Cleveland hasn’t really seen in 2021. It was also the first snapshot of Mayfield translating that health into confidence. , which didn’t seem to be a problem as he moved to create some plays by taking the aforementioned end zone shot into tight coverage.

Although there is not much more to read into it, Saturday’s debut was undeniably a step forward and removes the anxiety of his first live click in a different uniform. Mayfield’s next goal will be to absorb Carolina’s offense while battling with Darnold, despite it looking like it may already be Mayfield’s job to lose.

Carolina’s next preseason game will be at the New England Patriots on August 19th. Both Mayfield and Darnold are expected to see more play in that game, with the likelihood of a starter named after that week.

Baker Mayfield started the Carolina Panthers' first preseason game on Saturday.  (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Baker Mayfield started the Carolina Panthers’ first preseason game on Saturday. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.