Watching Panthers soldiers through training camp

For the first time in Panthers training camp, one of the quarterbacks had back-to-back winning practices.

Baker Mayfield outplayed teammate Sam Darnold again while working out with the first team on Tuesday. Mayfield made the camp throw so far (a title previously held by Day 3 completion Darnold to Terrace Marshall) by hitting Robbie Anderson on a deep 50-yard run during an 11-on-11 session.

Coach Matt Rhule said he’s encouraged with how both quarterbacks are playing. The team has installed about 70% of offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s playbook. Rhule said he hopes to have almost everything by the end of the week.

For the rest of the week, Mayfield and Darnold will split reps with the first team evenly, just like last week. Day 6 of camp belonged to Mayfield, though he made a costly mistake.

Let’s dive deeper into their performances.

Baker Mayfield

Stats (unofficial): 13 for 24, 2 TD, INT

Mayfield had his best practice with the Panthers on Monday, the first day in pads. He worked mainly with the second team, which made Tuesday’s training session vital as it was his turn to work with them. In Panthers camp, they consistently face the first-team defense and both take the second-team defense. Mayfield looked sharp against projected backups, but how would he fare against CJ Henderson, Donte Jackson and Jeremy Chinn?

Mayfield responded by showing timely control of the offense. He hit tight end Stephen Sullivan during an opening seven-on-seven segment by running a ball over two Panthers linebackers and into the back of the end zone where Sullivan toe-tacked the back line.

He showed a continued understanding of McAdoo’s offensive principles. McAdoo expects his quarterbacks to throw quickly, handing the ball to playmakers instead of holding it. Many times Mayfield threw quick strikes to Christen McCaffrey, DJ Moore and CJ Saunders. He plays on his time letting it rip and trusts his eyes.

Best throw: Mayfield and Anderson eventually connected for a touchdown pass. It was an electric moment. McAdoo faked an inside run and Anderson made a deep pass from left to right. As Mayfield dropped back, he stood in a clean pocket, left his right foot and delivered a moonsault to Anderson. Splitting the corner and high safety, Anderson tracked the ball down, got under it and made the catch while rolling into the end zone.

The fans cheered and Anderson raised both arms in celebration.

Notable error: Mayfield had a great day until the final 2-minute drill. Carolina started at their own 25-yard line and needed points. Instead, Mayfield threw an interception to linebacker Frankie Luvu just four plays in.

Instead of rushing the passer, Luvou dipped into Mayfield’s passing lane and easily intercepted the ball.

Sam Darnold

Stats (unofficial): 17 for 26, 2 TD, INT

Darnold started practice by completing nine of his first 11 shots. He ran a deep route to Marshall during the seven-on-seven. He got another lead on the next play by throwing to an open undrafted free agent Ra’Shaun Henry on a deep out.

He was on his way to an effective day competing against the second defense, just like Mayfield did the day before. But then he threw a needless interception during a red-zone stretch. The pass — which was picked off by Standley Thomas-Oliver and intercepted by Kenny Robinson — was intended for Marshall in the back of the end zone and was mishandled. Marshall wasn’t open anyway. The read may have been high-low, but Darnold missed a wide-open target about 8 yards in front of him and instead dropped into triple coverage.

Best throw: Brandon Zylstra caught a short touchdown from Darnold three plays after the interception. Starting outside and to Darnold’s left, Zylstra switched with slot receiver Shi Smith and briefly ran the route. Darnold knew exactly where and when to throw it. Zylstra made an end zone slide, adjusting to the low Darnold throw that kept him safe from contact.

Notable error: Darnold threw a needless interception to Kenny Robinson. The ball was originally from Thomas-Oliver and was intended for Marshall.

Who won the day?

Mayfield takes the day. For the first time, he created some separation from Darnold, though it’s still early days.

Total wins this preseason

Baker Mayfield 3

Sam Darnold 2

PJ Walker/Matt Corral 1

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