The Panthers quarterback competition intensified on Friday during Day 3 of Panthers training camp at Wofford College.
Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold each ended practice by leading a two-minute offensive drive in an 11-on-11 setting. Darnold capped his series with a one-yard touchdown run via D’Onta Foreman. Mayfield settled for three points after his drive stalled. Kicker Zane Gonzalez nailed a 40-yard kick as time expired and practice concluded.
There were plenty of impressive throws and some questionable decisions before that. Let’s dive deeper into their performances
Stats in 7-on-7 (unofficial): 10/18 (3/8 in 7-on-7)
Darnold made some highlight plays after spending his first two practices exhausting his check-down options. He deliberately took more downfield chances, and it paid off.
Second-year receiver Terrace Marshall and Darnold connected on 30-yard deep shot during an inside run session. Darnold started under center, faked a handoff and dropped back. Marshall immediately worked deep, stacking his defender behind him. With only the safety to beat, Darnold planted his back foot and launched a 50-50 ball. Marshall rose up, made the catch and completed it to the ground.
It was the best throw of any quarterback at camp thus far.
Darnold wasn’t done. The team emphasized pace of play during this segment. Darnold quickly broke the huddle and caught the defense off guard with a running back screen to Chuba Hubbard. It was blocked well, easily picking up a first down.
He was not as sharp during 7-on-7. During his second series, Darnold threw four straight incompletions before Mayfield took over. The team continues to evenly route between both quarterbacks.
Best throw: The 30-yard bomb to Marshall. Darnold let his receiver make a play and he did. If he can keep pushing the ball downfield then this competition will remain tightly contested.
Notable mistake: Darnold committed no glaring mistakes but throwing four straight incompletions during 7-on-7 shouldn’t happen.
Stats (unofficial): 12/20, TD (3/7 in 7-on-7s)
Mayfield’s day started slowly as he held the ball in 7-on-7 drills and missed a couple intermediate passes.
He worked with the No. 2 group and settled down later in practice, particularly when placed in a simulated two-minute drills. With 11 players on each side and artificial crowd noise pumping in the background, Mayfield went 6-for-8 on the final drive. One incompletion came off a spike as the Panthers ended practice with a Zane Gonzalez field goal.
On that final drive, Mayfield spread the ball around. He started the drive with back-to-back passes to Derek Wright, the first on a first-down depth out route and the second on a check-down. He then quickly dumped a pass to D’Onta Foreman, who scampered for about seven yards and a first down.
After a first-down throwaway, Mayfield then went to back up running back Darius Bradwell on a screen pass that gained some yardage. Another quick out to Rashard Higgins, who toe-tapped his way out of bounds, earned the offense another first down.
Mayfield’s only missteps on that drive came on a delay-of-game penalty late in the drive and a completion to Shi Smith on the third-to-last play. Smith got tackled inbounds, which bled the clock, forcing the offense to spike the ball and settle for the Gonzalez field goal.
During 7-on-7s, Mayfield whipped a quick slant to Andre Roberts, who split a pair of defenders and ran to the end zone.
Early in 7-on-7s, Mayfield sailed a seam ball intended for Smith well over the 5-foot-10-inch receiver’s head.
Who won the day?
After a quiet Day 2, Darnold bounced back on Friday. He had the most complete day. Scoring to end practice gives him some solid momentum going into Saturday’s Back Together practice.