Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold will start the season on injured reserve due to an ankle injury.
The team announced the move on Thursday, allowing them to open a roster spot heading into the regular season.
Darnold will have to sit out at least the first four games of the season.
The Panthers made the decision prior to their final preseason game that Baker Mayfield would be the starter in the regular season.
During the preseason finale on Aug. 26, however, Darnold was carted off the field in the third quarter with an ankle injury. Head coach Matt Rhule told reporters his quarterback suffered a "significant" high ankle sprain that could land him on injured reserve.
Injuries have been a persistent problem for Darnold throughout his NFL career. He has never played every game in the regular season in any of the past four years. A fractured scapula cost him five games in 2021.
Acquiring Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns in July did give the Panthers a much-needed reinforcement at quarterback. The 2018 No. 1 overall pick hasn't been consistent throughout his career, but his highs with the Browns were quite good.
The 27-year-old elevates the ceiling for Carolina in 2022, but having Darnold available to step in if needed gave Rhule an adequate safety net to help the team as it tries to compete for a playoff spot.
Not having the former New York Jet available for the time being means P.J. Walker will be elevated to the Panthers' No. 2 quarterback. He has started one game in each of the past two seasons, with Carolina winning both.
The Panthers will host the Browns in Week 1 on Sept. 11. Darnold will be eligible to return before their game against the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 9.