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USATSI

A day after his fourth-quarter Hail Mary nearly lifted the Panthers to a comeback win over the rival Falcons, P.J. Walker is getting another shot as Carolina's quarterback. Interim head coach Steve Wilks announced Monday that Walker, who opened 2022 as the team's third-string QB, will make his fourth straight start in Week 8 against the Bengals.

Originally signed in 2020 after a successful run in the second iteration of the XFL, Walker first took over this year in Week 6, replacing an injured Baker Mayfield. The latter was not on the Panthers' injury report leading up to Sunday's game against Atlanta, returning to practice following an ankle sprain, meaning he's essentially -- and indefinitely -- been relegated to the bench.

Former starter Sam Darnold was speculated as a Mayfield replacement earlier this year, but he's been inactive while recovering from his own high-ankle sprain. Asked Monday if Darnold is any closer to returning, and potentially taking over as QB1, Wilks downplayed the possibility: "We'll have to wait and see." Darnold is "progressing" in rehabilitation, the coach added, but Walker will remain under center until Darnold gets both medical clearance and endorsement from the staff for on-field work.

"We've seen over the last couple of weeks, with (Walker) putting the time in ... he's shown that he can handle certain things," Wilks said. "So I'm very pleased."

Walker has gone 1-2 as the Panthers' starter, but he's flashed big-play ability in recent weeks, completing 72 percent of his throws in a Week 7 upset of the Buccaneers, then throwing for 317 yards, as well as the last-minute Hail Mary touchdown, against Atlanta.