After four consecutive defeats, the Carolina Panthers have not committed to a quarterback this week and could welcome back Sam Darnold into the fray.
Darnold has been out since a Week 9 shoulder injury, with the Panthers going 1-4 in his absence. Cam Newton was signed by the Panthers on Nov. 12 and has started each of the last four games, but has been ineffective in the passing game.
The Panthers are just 5-9 and guaranteed to finish with a fourth consecutive losing season.
With Darnold set to see a doctor Monday and possibly get clearance to return to the field, head coach Matt Rhule declined to say Monday who his quarterback will be for Sunday’s home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“If Sam is healthy, we will practice him and see kind of where he’s at,” Rhule told reporters Monday. “I think it’s a good opportunity to shake some of the rust off him and see where he’s at in the process. I can’t speculate who will be the full-time guy until we have some more information.”
Newton has not thrown for 190 yards in any of the four games he has started. He played his first nine seasons with the team, guiding them to the Super Bowl in 2015, after he was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2011.
Newton, 32, has been effective running the ball, with a rushing touchdown in each of the last four games, to go along with 71 rushing yards against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. But he has also fumbled four times in the past two weeks, losing one, and has thrown four interceptions in the last three games.
Darnold, 24, helped the Panthers to a 3-0 start, but that was followed by a four-game losing streak. He threw for 1,986 yards in nine games, with seven TDs, but also threw 11 interceptions.
Until Darnold gets clearance, the Panthers will have to look for improvement from Newton.
“We’ll continue to coach Cam, and continue to build off the good things he’s doing,” Rhule said.
–Field Level Media