Panthers’ Steve Wilks noncommittal on Baker Mayfield as starting quarterback: ‘I can’t give you that answer’

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Baker Mayfield’s first season with the Carolina Panthers is not going the way anyone might have expected it to. 

During a press conference with reporters on Monday, interim head coach Steve Wilks was explicitly asked if the starting job would still be Mayfield’s once he returns to the lineup after suffering a high ankle sprain in the Panthers’ Week 5 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. 

Baker Mayfield, #6 of the Carolina Panthers, looks to throw the ball during the second half against the San Francisco 49ers at Bank of America Stadium on Oct. 9, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Baker Mayfield, #6 of the Carolina Panthers, looks to throw the ball during the second half against the San Francisco 49ers at Bank of America Stadium on Oct. 9, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 
(Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

His response? No promises. 

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“I can’t give you that answer,” Wilks said bluntly. “But I can tell you right now those guys [in the quarterback room] are going to compete at that position just as well as other positions to see who exactly goes out there on Sunday.”

Carolina’s quarterback situation is grim. Both Mayfield and Sam Daronold are out with high ankle sprains, with the latter being eligible to return from injured reserve on Wednesday. P.J. Walker is dealing with a neck injury after clearing concussion protocol this week, leaving Jacob Eason as the only healthy signal caller left. 

Quarterback Baker Mayfield, #6 of the Carolina Panthers, looks on during the fourth quarter of their game against the Cleveland Browns at Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 11, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield, #6 of the Carolina Panthers, looks on during the fourth quarter of their game against the Cleveland Browns at Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 11, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
(Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“I think they are all considered to be in the mix, especially with the injuries that we have,” Wilks said Monday. “I told [Eason] on the plane I was very pleased with how he played with poise and really took the team down and put us in a position where we had an opportunity to score.”

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Wilks added that he is “looking forward” to Darnold’s return but made no guarantees about Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after he missed the first six games of the season with a preseason injury. 

“It’s hard to say just from the standpoint that I haven’t seen him. I got a lot of confidence in him as an individual and as a player but by being off for so long, you don’t know exactly how he’s going to return.” 

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold, #14, looks to pass during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Landover, Maryland.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold, #14, looks to pass during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Landover, Maryland.
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

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The Panthers’ offense is ranked last in the league through Week 6. They will take on the struggling Bucs at home on Sunday. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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