Sam Darnold will start against Saints;  Cam Newton to the bench

The coach wants Darnold to get back to the level of the first three games of the season; Everything indicates that Newton will not continue in the team

CHARLOTTE, NC – Sam Darnold will be the starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in New Orleans, the coach announced Wednesday. Matt Rhule.

He will replace Cam Newton, who was 0-5 as a starter. after replacing Darnold, who went to injured reserve with a shoulder problem after a Week 9 loss to New England.

“Sam has worked hard to get back. I think he did some good things last week … We will give him this opportunity to show what he can do. “

Darnold split the game with Newton in Sunday’s 32-6 loss to Tampa Bay. He completed 15 of 32 pass attempts for 190 yards.

With the Panthers (5-10) out of playoff contention and Darnold the only quarterback under contract for 2022, Rhule wants to see if the player acquired in a trade with the New York Jets during the offseason can return to the way he was after a 3-0 start to the season.

“I want to see him play like he did in the first game; he threw the ball on time, he was aggressive with his shots,” Rhule explained. “I would like to see him play aggressive, be aggressive and play within the system.”

Darnold had three passing touchdowns and two on the ground with just one interception to lead Carolina to victories against the Jets, New Orleans and Houston. He had his best game against the Saints in Week 2, completing 26 of 38 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns in a 26-7 victory.

Darnold lost five of his next six games, throwing 10 interceptions for just four touchdown passes during that span before being placed on injured reserve after a three-interception performance against the Patriots.

The Panthers replaced Darnold with Newton, who had lost his job after being fired by the Patriots late in training camp. Newton returned to the team that made him the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, scoring touchdowns the first two times he touched the ball in Arizona.

Newton, 32, started the next five games, losses to Washington, Miami, Atlanta, Buffalo and Tampa Bay. He had five interceptions and a fumble by just one touchdown in the last four games, although he ran for three touchdowns.

But given his age and the deterioration in his level of play since he suffered a shoulder injury in 2018 with Carolina, there are no guarantees that he will sign again.

Rhule is not committing to Newton to play in New Orleans.

“Cam is the best professional,” he said. “Cam, I can’t say enough about him. He had as much energy on the practice field today as anyone.”

Darnold said he and Newton have talked since Rhule named him the starter and are “fine with each other.”

“We understand the type of business we are in,” he explained. “It is what it is. We are both very professional.”

“For me, it’s just another chance to play good football. That’s all I’m focused on, doing my job at the highest level. Nothing more.”

Darnold said his confidence was never affected during the 1-5 period before going on injured reserve.

“During that time I got hurt, I watched all the games I played. I looked at the good, the ugly. I learned a lot by watching those videos.”

Darnold isn’t looking beyond this game either, even in terms of how his performance in the last two games would affect Carolina’s quarterback situation for 2022.

“If I look beyond this game, I would be doing this team and myself a disservice by looking too far into the future.”