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Panthers OC Ben McAdoo backs off comments after declaring Sam Darnold as team’s starting QB

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Ben McAdoo considers Sam Darnold the Panthers’ starting quarterback, even if he feels he shouldn’t have expressed that publicly. The former Giants head coach and current new Panthers offensive coordinator recently retracted his “Yes” answer when asked if he considers Darnold to be the Panthers’ starting quarterback.

“One of the things I’ve been working on is being better at talking to you guys,” McAdoo. saying. “So announcing the starting quarterback here, I put my foot in my mouth. That wasn’t something I should have said.”

Carolina is expected to select a quarterback with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. CBS Sports’ consensus mock draft has the Panthers using the pick to draft former Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett, who last fall led the Panthers to an ACC championship. Carolina can also choose to select former Liberty quarterback Malik Willis or former Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, assuming neither player is selected before the Panthers are on the clock. There’s also a chance Carolina will pass on taking a quarterback in the first round.

The Panthers enjoyed early success under Darnold in 2020, his first season in Carolina after spending the first three seasons with the Jets. Carolina started the season with a 3-0 record before losing four straight games. Darnold, who threw seven interceptions during Carolina’s losing streak, then sat out for five weeks with a shoulder injury. He returned in a relief role during the team’s week 15 loss to the Buccaneers. Darnold then started the last two games for the Panthers, an 18-10 loss to the Saints and a 41-17 blowout loss at Tampa. He finished the season with more interceptions (13) than touchdown passes (nine) and failed to complete 60% of his passes.

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Panthers coach Matt Rhule, who made history in 2020 by using all seven of his draft picks on defensive players, recently said he envisions one of the previous quarterbacks being a top 10 pick. And while he didn’t rule out choosing a quarterback with the Panthers’ first pick, Rhule said it was anything but a guarantee.

“I think when you take a guy in the top 10 in the first round, you have to be really confident that he’s going to be a good player,” Rhule said, via the team’s website. “That said, it’s such a long process. It’s literally up to draft day. Every new piece of information you get changes and distorts your point of view. So we’re just trying to be diligent blindfolded and looking at the information, not based on based on our needs, but based on who’s what, where they’re going. If we do that, I think we’ll make a good decision.”