Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule declined to commit to Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold as the team's starting quarterback following a 23-21 preseason win over the Washington Commanders on Saturday.
"I have to really watch the tape to see exactly what they did, but I thought they were both in command," he told reporters. "They made the right checks, so I was pleased."
Rhule added that because Mayfield opened the game didn't mean he had made up his mind:
Mayfield went 4-of-7 for 45 yards through the air and only featured on the opening series. Darnold took over for the next two drives and finished 2-of-3 for 16 yards and one touchdown. He helped put Carolina ahead 10-0 in the first quarter by finding Rashard Higgins in the end zone from eight yards out.
Neither Mayfield nor Darnold played well enough or so poorly to render any continued uncertainty moot.
Charles Robinson @CharlesRobinson
Sam Darnold comes out on a short field with a nice play action TD off his back foot under pressure. Got the TD drive Mayfield didn’t. At the very least, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Panthers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Panthers</a> should be happy is this is a competitive back and forth. <a href="https://t.co/H05aRbSHN9">https://t.co/H05aRbSHN9</a>
Still, you'd probably bet on Mayfield to come out on top by the time Week 1 rolls around.
Mayfield is coming off his worst season in the NFL, and his performance still basically eclipsed Darnold's best season.
The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner threw for 3,010 yards and 17 touchdowns with 13 interceptions while finishing with an 83.1 quarterback rating and a 35.1 QBR. Darnold has thrown for 3,000-plus yards just once in four years, and his QBR hit a high of 45.9 in 2018.
The Panthers acquired Mayfield on July 6, so he's had a little more than a month to acclimate. As much as Rhule played down its significance, it could be telling that Mayfield started ahead of Darnold.