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Panthers bench Baker Mayfield; Sam Darnold to start at quarterback vs. Broncos

Baker Mayfield had another rocky performance in a 13-3 loss to the Ravens Sunday.Rob Carr/Getty

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s Sam Darnold’s turn at quarterback for the struggling Panthers.

The team (3-8) announced Tuesday Darnold will make his season debut Sunday against the Broncos after interim head coach Steve Wilks decided to bench Baker Mayfield following yet another rocky performance in a 13-3 loss to the Ravens last weekend. Darnold has spent the majority of the season on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain he suffered during the preseason.

Darnold will be the fourth different quarterback to play for the Panthers (3-8) this season — and the third different starter, joining Mayfield and the injured P.J. Walker.


Darnold went 4-7 as Carolina’s starter last season, falling apart after getting the Panthers off to a 3-0 start under former head coach Matt Rhule. He finished the year completing 59.9 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions for a 71.9 passer rating.

Mayfield has struggled since being acquired in a trade in July from the Browns, going 1-5 as Carolina’s starter.