3 storylines to watch in Commanders preseason opener vs Panthers
By Jerry Trotta
The Washington Commanders‘ preseason opener vs the Carolina Panthers on Saturday will mark the first time Ron Rivera’s side has competed against another team this offseason.
Much to the chagrin of fans, the club opted against holding joint practices in training camp, which are usually a great way to gauge how ready a team is for game action. In other words, nobody knows how the Commanders will look.
Rivera said the starters will get around 15-20 snaps before the reserves take over and all three quarterbacks will see the field, so fans will get to analyze how the veterans and inexperienced players fare against live competition.
It’s only the first preseason game, but there are no shortage of storylines to monitor Saturday at FedEx Field. Let’s run through some of them, shall we?
3 storylines to watch in Commanders vs Panthers
3. Sam Darnold vs Baker Mayfield
The Mayfield-Browns saga was one for the record books after Cleveland netted Deshaun Watson, who faces potentially a season-long ban from the NFL, thereby moving on from Mayfield as their starting quarterback after three seasons.
With Darnold on the heels of a brutal debut season in Carolina, the Panthers freed Mayfield from Cleveland to compete for the starting job.
While Darnold has a leg up on the former first overall pick given his familiarity with the offense, Mayfield’s enjoyed more success in the NFL and nobody would be surprised if he’s under center for Carolina come Week 1.
This storyline is intriguing for myriad reasons. Not only is it one of the few legit quarterback competitions in the NFL, but both players are former top-five picks from the 2018 draft and their respective performances this season could very well determine head coach Matt Rhule’s future with the franchise.
Preseason games lack appeal for obvious reasons, but quarterback competitions are a surefire way to spice them up and Saturday marks the first time Mayfield and Darnold will have the chance to stake their claim to win the battle.