Carolina Panthers activate Sam Darnold, sign new place kicker
In a twist Carolina Panthers (5-9) head coach Matt Rhule decided to activate Sam Darnold this week in an effort to give the quarterback a chance to see if he can return to pre-injury performance levels. "We brought him here to be a starter ...see if he can play at that level again," Rhule said.
Additionally, the team has signed place kicker Lirim Hajrullahu off the Washington Football Team’s practice squad. The addition replace Zane Gonzales who injured his quad during the warm-up period of the team's matchup with the Buffalo Bills last Sunday. Gonzalez has since been moved to the injured reserve list.
A strange name to all those who dare try to pronounce it. Hajrullahu was born in Kosovo in south-eastern Europe where the name originates. The country shares borders with Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia.Well here's how should sound. First say “Hy.” Then “Roo.” Then “La. Finally “Hu.”
Hajrullahu has limited yet promising experience in the NFL. He kicked for the Dallas Cowboys this season in Week 10 and was perfect in the Dallas win over Atlanta.
Cam Newton fully participated in practice on Wednesday along with Darnold and has been named the starter for the matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4) this Sunday. This could possibly be Newton's final game as a Carolina Panthers as his contract ends at the end of this season. The biggest test right now, however, for offensive coordinator Jeff Nixon will be to get Darnold back into rhythm and eliminate any timing issues because of the two vastly different styles between quarterbacks. The Panthers had five penalties for 55 yards against Buffalo. For the season, the team has been taxed 99 times for 817 yards - ranked fourth in the NFL. Fixing any timing issues will help lower the number of penalties on first down - a key area of concern for the Panthers.
The Wednesday injury report saw DJ Moore with a DNP due to a Hamstring issue. Stephon Gilmore and Cam Erving were both listed as limited participation. Gilmore with a knee issue and Erving suffering from calf issues.
On the Reserve Covid-19 list heading into today's practice were quarterback Matt Barkely, defensive tackle Derrick Brown and running back Christian McCaffrey who is also out for the season with an ankle injury.
The Panthers look to break a four-game losing streak as they continue preparation on Thursday for their matchup against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday at 1:00 p.pm. ET at Bank of America Stadium.