There is a trend starting to emerge at Panthers training camp.
Regardless of how coach Matt Rhule scripts practice — no matter how many passes either of his quarterbacks throw — Baker Mayfield will make one or two passes that make spectators cheer and Panthers players celebrate.
Day 10 of Panthers camp was no different. After having Sunday off, the team spent Monday focusing on fine-tuning its running game by dedicating the majority of practice time to team-run drills. Sam Darnold and Mayfield threw a combined 17 passes during two 11-on-11 sessions.
Mayfield’s highlight plays came during one-on-ones and a three-on-three drill. During team sessions, neither Darnold nor Mayfield successfully moved the ball down field. Both quarterbacks had multiple three-and-outs when the offense was trying to drive for points.
Let’s dive deeper into their performances.
Stats (unofficial): 3/8
Mayfield spun the ball well early in practice. The team did one-on-one drills (wide receivers against cornerbacks) and Mayfield made several notable completions. He connected with Robbie Anderson on an outside vertical route. Mayfield led Anderson away from coverage by throwing a high lofting ball near the sideline. With only a step on his defender, Anderson adjusted for the ball and made a difficult, contested catch.
During team-run sessions, Mayfield had the option to throw bubble screens if he did not favor the defense’s alignment. A few times Mayfield checked into quick screens when the box was heavy. D.J. Moore gained 20 yards on a screen from Mayfield, and pointed at Panthers defenders as he ran by them down the left sideline.
Though Mayfield did not turn the ball over, he also did not convert a single first down at Monday’s practice.
Best throw: Anderson to Mayfield is starting to become a connection to watch. The two have connected on deep plays three times in less than a week. Their pitch-and-catch on Day 10 was the highlight of practice.
Notable mistake: Mayfield protected the football well. He did not take any unnecessary risks despite not converting a first down.
Stats (unofficial): 5/9, INT
The Panthers will not name a starting quarterback until after their second preseason game but Darnold is settling into his future role as the team’s No. 2 quarterback. On Monday he completed more passes and had more attempts than Mayfield, but he did little with them.
Even when he outperforms Mayfield, eventually he’ll make a mistake that reminds everyone he is still Sam Darnold. Working with the second team, Darnold picked up a first down by completing a pass to slot receiver Shi Smith. As the clock ticked under two minutes, Darnold ran a quick play and threw a pass intended for Jared Scott, but it was intercepted by safety Sean Chandler as Darnold threw into double coverage.
Monday’s turnover was Darnold’s third interception in five practices.
Best throw: For the first time at camp, there is not a Darnold throw worthy of being considered his best. All four of his five completions went to either a tight end or running back near the line of scrimmage.
Notable mistake: Darnold threw another interception, his fourth of training camp.
Who won the day?
Mayfield again won the day. The team did not ask either quarterback to do much, but Mayfield continues pushing the ball downfield in a multitude of ways Darnold will not.
Total wins this preseason
Baker Mayfield 5
Sam Darnold 3
P.J. Walker/Matt Corral 1