The Panthers could have more QB issues headed their way. Backup Sam Darnold has been carted off the field during the team’s preseason finale against the Bills, ESPN’s David Newton ( Twitter link ) reports. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that he suffered a high ankle sprain and will have an MRI tomorrow.

The 25-year-old sprained his left ankle while taking a hit (video link via Niki Zabvala of the Washington Post). The drama brings other bad news for him this week; Head coach Matt Rhule recently named Baker Mayfield the team’s starting quarterback. However, now a serious question mark has arisen on this position.

Third-round rookie Matt Corral is likely out for the season with Lisfranc’s injury. He wasn’t in the running for a starting role, but was an easy hold on the No. 3 spot as a developmental reserve. If Darnold misses any significant time, Mayfield will certainly remain the first-teamer, but the team will be dangerously thin behind him.

The team has announced that Darnold will not be returning. The Panthers have two other notable players who made a splash in tonight’s game. Defensive tackle Derrick Brown left the contest with an oblique injury, Newton tweeted. Any absence of the 2020 first-rounder would be a major blow to the team’s defensive interior.

Additionally, as The Athletic’s Joseph Persson noted (on Twitter), kicker Zane Gonzalez needed a cart to leave the field. He has a groin injury and won’t be back like Darnold and Brown. Last season, the 27-year-old suffered the injury in practice before the game against the Bills.

In Darnold’s absence, P.J. Walker has taken over at QB. The multi-year backup won every start he made during spot-duty with the team, but was still considered to be on the roster bubble after Corral’s injury. Darnold’s significant absence, combined with Corral being sidelined indefinitely, could leave Walker with a clear path to a roster spot. With more than $21MM in cap space, the Panthers may also have the flexibility to add a more veteran insurance policy.

Topics #Panthers #Panthers QB Sam Darnold #Sam Darnold