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Panthers QB Sam Darnold returns to training after ankle injury

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CHARLOTTE, NC — Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold returned to practice Wednesday for the first time in almost eight weeks, his red beard and left ankle recovering enough to give him another shot in the next few weeks.

But whether he’s got a second chance to start after losing the job to Baker Mayfield at training camp, or staying as a backup, Darnold’s priority is to help the 1-5 loser of 12 of the last 13 games this season find a team. way to win.

“It’s a tough situation we’re all in, you know, losing. I can’t wait to be a backup or get down to business, losing sucks,” Darnold said.

Darnold is set to return from injured reserve on Wednesday, opening a 21-day window to be promoted to the 53-man squad.

Prior to Sunday’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3) game, the Panthers aren’t expected to rise unless they choose to keep three quarterbacks, and that’s unlikely. Interim coach Steve Wilks named PJ Walker as the starter for the second straight week, with Mayfield still suffering from a high ankle sprain and Jacob Eason as a backup.

A more realistic timeline for Darnold to be ready in Atlanta next week or the Cincinnati Bengals next week.

But Wilks said on Wednesday that Darnold, who led the scouting team, was looking good and would like to see him in a game this season. This comes after Wilks said on Monday that Mayfield is not guaranteed to start work while he is healthy.

“I’ll be ready to throw it whenever I get the chance. Other than that, I’m not too worried about anything,” Darnold said.

Darnold said Carolina didn’t feel any justification for Mayfield’s 1-4 starter fight.

“For me, it’s about taking advantage of the opportunity but also using it one game at a time,” he said. “I’ve said it all along, I’ve said it since my rookie year. [with the New York Jets]As a quarterback, there’s a lot going on in every game. You can’t look beyond a game.

“I can’t worry, ‘Oh, if I get in there I have to take advantage of it. Frankly, if that’s the case, I’d like to take advantage of the opportunity. There I really focused on one game at a time.'”

Darnold suffered a high left ankle sprain in the late third quarter of the August 26 preseason final against the Buffalo Bills after Mayfield won the starting job in what the team calls open competition. He was made an injured reserve squad on September 1 and missed the first six games during a start when the Panthers fired head coach Matt Rhule after Week 5.

Darnold showed good mobility in the agility drills while leading the expedition team and in the training section, which was open to the media. Cheering her, Mayfield suffered a left ankle sprain in the Week 5 loss to San Francisco.

Mayfield wasn’t in a hiking boot and looked good in agility training, but it looks like he’s got at least another week to get back to training, and even then there are no guarantees.

Mayfield compiled a 15.5 Total QBR, the lowest after five games since ESPN began recording statistics in 2006. Walker was no better off in a 24-10 Sunday loss against the Los Angeles Rams. He had a 5.6 QBR and completed 10 of 16 pass attempts for 60 yards before leaving with a neck injury in the fourth quarter.

His performances are why some Carolina fans are worried about seeing Darnold return, despite taking most of the blame for last season’s 5-12 record and placing 29th in the league with a 38.8 QBR.

Darnold said, “I’m used to everything. Whatever the fans say. Don’t get me wrong. I love the fans. They’re what made this game so great.

“But people will say very different things when things don’t go well.”

When Darnold gets his chance, fans will notice his beard that caught some of his family off guard when he visited with them in Los Angeles last weekend.

“They were like, ‘Oh, what the heck, they were looking for me,'” Darnold said. “And I say ‘I’m here’.

Christian McCaffrey jokingly rushed back and said Darnold should have grabbed his beard.

“I like your beard, yes,” he said. “The leprechaun is trembling. He has to hold it.”