Sam Darnold to take over as Carolina Panthers starting quarterback

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Another game, and another change at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers heading into Week 12.

Sam Darnold will make his season debut for the Panthers on Sunday against the Denver Broncos, becoming the fourth different quarterback to play for Carolina this season and the third different starter.

Darnold, acquired from the New York Jets in April 2021, replaces Baker Mayfield, who threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 13-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and dropped to 1-5 as the team’s starter.

Darnold has spent most of this season on injured reserve with a high-ankle sprain he suffered during the preseason. He went 4-8 as Carolina’s starter last season, but was 1-8 in his last nine games. He ended up completing 59.9 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions for a 71.9 passer rating.

"You learn a lot just by watching," Darnold said recently. "There’s a lot to learn in terms of walking around the building, learning from other guys. There’s a lot you can learn when you don’t have the stress of being a starter. But at the end of the day, I want to be out there."

Coach Steve Wilks opted to go with Darnold after Mayfield’s dismal performance, and P.J. Walker is not yet ready to return from his own high-ankle sprain. Walker was 2-3 before suffering his injury in a Week 10 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

At 3-8, the Panthers are tied with the Chicago Bears for the worst record in the NFC and are headed for a fifth straight season out of the playoffs.