Panthers starting quarterback Sam Darnold is expected to be out for a few weeks due to his right shoulder injury, according to multiple reports.
It is uncertain when Darnold will return, leaving Carolina (4-5) without its starting quarterback for the foreseeable future. The Panthers have struggled offensively this season, and now will have to face the Cardinals after having lost five out of its last six games.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Panthers’ quarterback’s injury, including what happened, who will step in behind him and what his injury timeline looks like.
What is Sam Darnold’s injury?
Darnold reportedly suffered a crack in his scapula in his right shoulder (which is also his throwing arm). This injury is officially defined as a fractured scapula.
The injury reportedly occurred during the Panthers’ Week 8 game vs. the Falcons, a game in which Darnold also suffered a concussion. Darnold played through the injury in the Week 9 loss to New England, against whom he threw three interceptions, before an MRI revealed the extent of the damage. That said, the Charlotte Observer reports the injury occurred during the second quarter vs. the Patriots, though it didn’t confirm whether he suffered a hit that exacerbated the already-existing injury.
What is a scapula?
The scapula is more commonly known as the shoulder blade. The bone is located in the upper back, and various muscles surround it to help move your arm. Because Darnold’s scapula is fractured it makes it difficult for him to throw with his right arm.
Who is the Panthers’ backup QB behind Sam Darnold?
P.J. Walker will step in as the Panthers’ quarterback for the next few weeks while Darnold recovers. He has played in two games this season, which is his second season with the Panthers. Last year, he appeared in four games, making one start. Week 10 against the Cardinals will be Walker’s second start in his NFL career. Walker has attempted 15 throws this season, completing three attempts for 33 yards.
Walker has had an odd football career thus far. He was picked up as a free agent by the Colts in 2017. However, he was cut a total of 11 times from 2017-19 before finally leaving the NFL in 2019. He was picked up by the XFL in 2019, where he started for the Houston Roughnecks. Following his lone season in the NFL, he was signed by first-year coach Matt Rhule, who happened to coach him for three years while the two were at Temple.
MORE: Who is P.J. Walker?
How long is Sam Darnold out?
An official timeline of Darnold’s return has not been released. Rapoport reports Darnold is expected to miss “several weeks.”
Sam Darnold injury timeline
Oct. 31 — Darnold exited the Panthers game vs. the Falcons in Week 8 after getting hit hard by linebacker Foye Oluokun. He was taken to the sidelines and did not return to the game. It was later discovered that he suffered a concussion from this hit.
Nov. 5 — Two days before the Week 9 matchup between the Panthers and Patriots, Darnold was still in concussion protocol and determined questionable to start the game. He was a limited participant in practice that day as well. It was also released that he suffered a shoulder injury the previous weekend on top of the concussion.
Nov. 6 — Darnold is cleared from concussion protocol, allowing him the option of playing against the Patriots.
Nov. 7 — Darnold starts vs. the Patriots and plays throughout the entire game. He throws for only 172 yards on top of three interceptions — to zero interceptions — in the loss.
Nov. 8 — Ian Rapoport reports Darnold has a fractured scapula and is expected to miss several weeks.
After two days of testing, exams revealed that #Panthers QB Sam Darnold has a fractured scapula, sources say. The right shoulder injury will most likely lead to Darnold missing several weeks. PJ Walker, his backup, will step in.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 10, 2021