Panthers’ Baker Mayfield to start vs Ravens, PJ Walker out with high ankle sprain

 

Baker Mayfield is back in the driver’s seat.

Carolina Panthers head coach Steve Wilks announced Monday that MRI tests over the weekend revealed that PJ Walker suffered a high ankle sprain in Thursday night’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons and that Mayfield would be starting in his absence.

Panthers Baker Mayfield, left, and PJ Walker before the Atlanta Falcons game at Bank of America Stadium on Nov. 10, 2022, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
(Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

“Baker will be the starter this week along with Sam (Darnold) being the backup,” Wilks said.

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“All those guys want to play. They’re so competitive but again we have to do what’s best for the team and a high ankle sprain, limited mobility as far as moving around the pocket – I thought it was just best to be able to let him sit this week and go with Baker.”

Wilks said Walker’s injury happened at some point during the game but he “played through it.”

Walker was 2-3 as the starter and completed 58% of his passes with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He averaged 134.2 yards passing per game. All three of Carolina’s quarterbacks have suffered high ankle sprains this season.

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Wilks did not offer a timeline for Walker’s return but expressed optimism with Mayfield starting against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass against the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 26, 2022, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
(AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

“Baker does have – [having] been in that conference – a familiarity with the Ravens and that defense, and likewise myself being there for one year, so we’re going to create a good game plan and try to put guys in a position to be successful.”

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Wilks said the decision between Mayfield and Darnold came down to the latter’s recovery.

Panthers quarterbacks Baker Mayfield, left, and Sam Darnold throw during drills at Fan Fest in Charlotte, North Carolina, Aug. 11, 2022.
(AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

“Sam, in my assessment, is still fresh off that 21-day threshold, and still trying to give him an opportunity to be able to continue to progress. That’s the reason I wanted to go with Baker.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.