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NFL training camp 2022: Panthers won't choose between Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold until they play Patriots

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The Carolina Panthers appeared to settle their quarterback situation when they traded for Baker Mayfield.

But since dealing for the formerly disgruntled Cleveland Browns signal caller, they've maintained that he'll engage in an open competition with incumbent Sam Darnold. On Saturday, head coach Matt Rhule revealed the earliest date he anticipates naming a starter. Check in with him after the Patriots game.

"I'm not putting a timetable on the quarterback position until after we get back from the Patriots week," Rhule told reporters. "The Patriots week is like a true litmus test for us. That’ll really show us where guys are. So we’ll continue to split the reps."

Even then, Rhule said that he might not be ready to make a decision.

"Quarterback to me, as we’ve said all along — it’s when we know, we know," Rhule continued. "And we’re not going to rush it.”

The Panthers open preseason play on August 13 at the Washington Commanders. They play the New England Patriots on Aug. 19 for the second of three preseason games, roughly three weeks prior to their Sept. 11 season opener against the Browns. In the meantime, Mayfield and Darnold will split reps with Carolina's first- and second-team offenses at training camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold, left, looks to throw as quarterback Baker Mayfield looks on during the NFL football team's training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., Wednesday, July 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
Sam Darnold, left, and Baker Mayfield remain engaged in a quarterback competition. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Mayfield and Darnold have both disappointed since being selected as the first and third picks of the 2018 draft. But Mayfield's largely been the better pro, completing 61.6% of his passes for 235.4 yards per game with 92 touchdowns and 56 interceptions with the Browns. Meanwhile, Darnold's completed 59.8% of his passes for 212.5 yards per game with 54 touchdowns and 52 interceptions with the New York Jets and Panthers.

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The Charlotte Observer's Ellis Williams reports that Mayfield's likewise had the edge in training camp — but just slightly. Per Williams, Mayfield's stood out with his deep-throw ability while Darnold's mostly kept things close with completions to running backs and tight ends. Meanwhile, both quarterbacks continue to turn the ball over in practice.

“The disappointing thing is that we had two interceptions," Rhule said of Saturday's practice. "Each guy had an interception. We’ve got to protect the football.

“But I did see some good things. Both guys had explosive plays. So we’ll really dig into the tape and see who’s truly mastering the offense and who’s not."