The Panthers are proceeding as though Darnold (shoulder) won't play again this season, even though his rehab from a partial non-displaced fracture of his right scapula entails only a 4-to-6-week recovery timeline, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
Even if Darnold's recovery trends toward the longer end of that timeline, he would still have a shot at playing in Weeks 16 through 18, but Carolina appears to be closing the door on him making a late-season return from injured reserve. Even before he was diagnosed with the shoulder injury, Darnold's standing atop the depth chart was shaky, as he completed only 59.5 percent of his passes for 6.5 yards per attempt and a 7:11 TD:INT through nine games. P.J. Walker will pick up the start under center Sunday in Arizona, but the Panthers plan to hand the top job over to the newly signed Cam Newton once he gets up to speed with the offense and gets reconditioned. Schefter notes that if Newton plays well down the stretch, the Panthers could look to re-sign him this offseason and have him enter 2022 as their starter.