Panthers' Sam Darnold Returns from Injury amid Baker Mayfield, P.J. Walker Struggles

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVNovember 7, 2022

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 19: Sam Darnold #14 of the Carolina Panthers warms up before the preseason game between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium on August 19, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers have activated quarterback Sam Darnold to the 53-man roster, the team announced Monday.

With the regular season on the horizon, the 25-year-old was forced to go on injured reserve because of a high ankle sprain. He was eligible to return in Week 5, but once Week 5 rolled around, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported it was still "going to be a while" before he was back on the field.

He returned to practice Oct. 19 and now will have an opportunity to suit up for Carolina.

Darnold's initial injury removed any doubt as to who would be starting for the Panthers to open the season. The job was probably Baker Mayfield's anyway from the moment he arrived in a trade.

Unfortunately for Carolina, the deal has done little to improve its QB play. In six games, Mayfield has thrown for 1,117 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions and completed 56.6 percent of his passes.

P.J. Walker provided signs of life until Sunday's disastrous 42-21 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Darnold could give the team another option, although he struggled himself in 2021. He finished his first year in Carolina with 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

With the Panthers already sitting at 2-7, there is still little risk in giving him another shot as the starting quarterback.