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Baker Mayfield Says Week 1 Matchup with Browns Has Meaning: Not Going to 'Be a Robot'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 22, 2022

Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule announced on Monday that Baker Mayfield would be the team's starting quarterback, setting up a Week 1 showdown with his former team, the Cleveland Browns.

Later in the day, Mayfield told reporters he wasn't going to pretend like that particular matchup wasn't meaningful.

Sheena Quick @Sheena_Marie3

Baker on facing CLE Week One: “There’s a lot of attachment there.” Adds that he’s not going to be a robot and say it won’t mean anything - “It will.” <a href="https://t.co/V1TddvzzXD">pic.twitter.com/V1TddvzzXD</a>

"When that time comes, three weeks from now, we're gonna handle prepping for Cleveland. Obviously, there's a lot of attachment there," he said. "I'm not gonna sit here and be a robot and say that it doesn't mean anything. It will. But right now, all that matters is me continuing to improve until this regular season starts."

It wasn't a huge surprise that Mayfield won the starting job after the Panthers traded for him, with ESPN's David Newton reporting that "league sources said the job was his to lose all along."

The veteran was competing with Sam Darnold, who struggled as Carolina's starter last year, throwing for 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 12 games.

"When we started the process, we said we were looking at three things," Rhule told reporters on Monday. "ce. No. 2, situational football excellence. And No. 3, moving the ball and getting guys involved. Baker has made a lot of improvement, a lot of growth in all three areas in a short amount of time."

Mayfield said Darnold reached out to him after the announcement was made.

"Obviously, Sam and I knew this day was gonna eventually come," Mayfield said. "But, we weren't counting down the days, we didn't know when it was gonna happen or anything like that. Just this morning, I was made aware I was going to be starting. Saw Sam shortly after, and he made it very clear that anything I needed in support or in terms of that aspect, he was gonna be there. That just shows what kind of team guy he is."

"My mindset is it is what it is," Darnold added. "And for me, right now, I'm going to do everything I can to support Baker and get him ready to play a game."

Mayfield, 27, had his own struggles last season, throwing for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 14 games, completing just 60.5 percent of his injuries, though he also battled through injuries throughout the campaign.

Now, he has a second chance in Carolina after the Browns chose to pursue Deshaun Watson. And in Week 1, he'll have an opportunity to show his old team what they gave up on, for better or worse.

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