SPARTANBURG, SC – Carolina Panthers will not make what coach Matt Rhule put it, a “big decision” in any position, especially between quarterback Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold, until the pre-season match on August 19 in New England.
Even then, Rhule might not make a decision if one of them did not separate clearly from the other after two training sessions together at Foxborough, Massachusetts, and a match.
“I won’t be setting a quarterback schedule until we get back from Patriot Week,” Rhule said after Saturday’s brawl in which neither quarterback had a decisive advantage. “Patriots Week is a real litmus test for us. It will really show us where the guys are. “
The Panthers, meanwhile, may have lost Marquis Haynes’ defense for an extended period of time due to a left knee injury he sustained while working with First Team. Carolina was already skinny in the position and pounced on veteran Carlos Dunlap, who had signed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Jason Pierre-Paul, 33, is the most notable free agent available. He had 9.5 bags for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, but dropped to 2.5 last season.
As for playmakers, Mayfield started the brawl by working with the first team in the red zone drills and was 1v3 in a ride that ended with a touchdown led by Chuba Hubbard. Darnold threw a touchdown to side-back Giovanni Ricci during his first game in the red zone drills while working with the other team.
They both performed equal repetitions with the first and second teams during a two-hour training session that focused on the situations in the game. Mayfield finished the game 14/21 with a long touchdown pass and one interception. Darnold was 20 out of 28 with a touchdown and intercept.
Both interceptions came when the quarterback was trying to get the ball to tightly cover. Cornerback Myles Hartsfield tore the ball from DJ Moore’s hands following a Mayfield pass that was thrown lightly behind the receiver.
Rhule noted that “the penalty pushed Baker off the chains, so he had to force the ball off the pitch.”
Darnold was eliminated by the recently acquired defender Tae Hayes near the sideline as he tried to force a pass by playing to the right.
Rhule said it was difficult to immediately judge how the playmakers played due to “the discrepancy between who you play with and against whom.”
“It’s disappointing that every guy has had an interception,” Rhule said. “We have to protect football.”
Rhule was also disappointed that sniper Rashard Higgins got the ball across the goal line instead of running into the end zone after a Mayfield cut. Higgins also did his patented celebration where he throws the ball like it is on the red carpet and then walks down an imaginary carpet.
The coach had an offensive after that.
“We are not a team that reaches across the goal line for the ball,” said Rhule. “I told the guys after you score a touchdown, celebrate, have fun, it’s not a real game, but we play it like a game. [celebrate] between the white lines. “
Overall, Rhule said Mayfield and Darnold had a lot to like when it comes to explosive games and long runs. As players have Sunday off, Rhule said staff “will really dig into the tape and see who’s really mastering the attack and who isn’t.”