Panthers QB Sam Darnold (ankle) placed on IR, out for at least four weeks

Sam Darnold's high-ankle sprain will cost him at least the first month of the 2022 season.

The Panthers placed Darnold on injured reserve, general manager Scott Fitterer told reporters on Thursday, and expect him to miss four to six weeks. Darnold's IR placement followed the final cutdown deadline, meaning he can return during the 2022 season.

Fitterer told reporters the Panthers expect to keep the status quo at quarterback, with Baker Mayfield and P.J. Walker remaining as the team's only two active quarterbacks.

It will be interesting to see how the Panthers juggle their QB depth chart once Darnold is able to return. Logically, Darnold would replace Walker as the backup to Mayfield, although his health would need to be in a good place to be able to step into a regular-season game.

Like Mayfield and Walker, Darnold is in the final year of his existing deal. Unlike Mayfield and Walker, he won't have a full season to prove he's worth pursuing in the offseason. In fact, if Mayfield plays well, Darnold might not get a chance at all.

Still, based on the order of quarterbacks during the preseason, it's safe to expect Darnold to return as QB2 behind Mayfield. When exactly that will happen remains to be seen.

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