Baker Mayfield is back as QB1 for the Carolina Panthers. On Monday, interim head coach Steve Wilks told reporters that quarterback P.J. Walker suffered a high ankle sprain during Thursday's win over the Falcons and will not be available for next week's game against the Ravens. That now thrusts Mayfield back into the starting role and Sam Darnold will serve as his backup.
Mayfield started the first five games of the season for Carolina and went 1-4 over that stretch. He completed just 54.9% of his throws in those starts and had a passer rating of 71.9. The former No. 1 overall pick then suffered a high ankle sprain in the Panthers' loss to the 49ers in Week 5. The combination of Mayfield's poor play to that point and the injury opened the door for Walker to start, and he was able to play well enough to keep the job once Mayfield was healthy.
The club has gone 2-3 in Walker's five starts, but he was benched for Mayfield in the second half of the Panthers' Week 9 loss to the Bengals after being blown out in the first half 35-0. In that game, Mayfield did play better, completing 14 of his 20 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
The Ravens are a familiar opponent for Mayfield, who began his career in the AFC North as a member of the Cleveland Browns. In eight games against Baltimore in his career, Mayfield is 3-5, has a 58.4 completion percentage, and an 83.2 passer rating. He also has 13 touchdowns to nine interceptions against the Ravens and averages 277.6 passing yards per game.
Meanwhile, Darnold inches closer to playing time after he was activated off of injured reserve last week. He'll be Mayfield's primary backup and it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could see the field. Darnold started 11 games for the Panthers last season after coming over from the Jets and went 4-7 in those games.