Sam Darnold injury update: initial observation suggest Panthers’ QB suffering high-ankle sprain, tomorrow’s MRI to determine severity and further damage

When it comes to injuries, Sam Darnold just can’t seem to get any luck. Darnold was tackled by Bills defensive tackle C.J. Brewer in the fourth quarter of the Carolina Panthers’ last preseason game against the Buffalo Bills, keeping him down for a while. Darnold eventually needed a cart ride back to the dugout due the bruised ankle and had a hard time standing up. Darnold wouldn’t be coming back any time soon, according to the Panthers.

The Charlotte Observer reports that there are worries that Darnold may have a dislocated ankle or a Grade III ankle sprain. According to a league source, Darnold will have an MRI on Saturday morning to assess the extent of the injury. If Darnold has an ankle dislocation, he might be out for a year or more. “I can’t give you any timelines,” coach Matt Rhule enunciated after his team’s 21-0 win. “We believe it’s not a fracture. Hoping that it’s an ankle sprain.”

Baker Mayfield won the starting quarterback job in Carolina, and Darnold was expected to start the season as the No. 2 quarterback. In his starts for the Panthers last season, he completed 59.9% of his throws for 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns, and 13 interceptions for a passer rating of 71.9. The team finished the season 4-7. In terms of touchdown passes, completion %, yards per attempt (6.2), and passer rating, he came in last place.

Despite having trouble throwing the ball, Darnold scored five touchdowns on the ground last year. In place of Mayfield against the Bills on Friday night, Darnold demonstrated his mobility on the ground by scoring while going 5 of 11 for 49 yards. Darnold missed six games with the Panthers last season due to a fractured shoulder scapula and a concussion.


In the first quarter and a half of play, Mayfield completed 9 of 15 passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 116.4. Mayfield believed there was still room for him to do better. “He did a nice job of moving the football,” Rhule said. “The thing I like about Baker right now is he plays so steady. You can’t tell after every play if it was a drop or a completion. I can’t say anything about his footwork, but I thought he made good checks and got us in the right play.”

“We’re praying for him, thinking about him,” he said. “It seemed like he was in good spirits for the most part. You never want to see that with anybody, especially your teammates.”

Darnold missed four games the previous season due to a reinjured shoulder strain. Over the previous two seasons, he has missed ten games. Due to Matt Corral’s season-ending Lisfranc injury last week, P.J. Walker will likely take over as Darnold’s backup quarterback until his return. Earlier in camp, the Panthers had planned to maintain three quarterbacks, with Corral being the third after Mayfield and Darnold. The decision to keep two was made after Corral’s injury, but Darnold’s injury may need another alteration.

Zahid Iqbal

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