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Carolina Panthers hopes riding on fortuitous hero

Carolina Panthers starting quarterback PJ Walker has earned the respect and love from his team and organization the right way. Following solid winning play under former head coach Matt Rhule at Temple then June Jones in the XFL, Walker was brought to the NFL Panthers back in 2020 by Rhule to be the leader that he is today.

Despite helping lead Carolina to a 5-5 record last season, Walker was replaced by Cam Newton who went 0-5 before being replaced by Sam Darnold. Fast forward to this season that included a quarterback battle with Darnold and newly acquired Baker Mayfield, plus injuries to both and recently drafted Matt Corral, and suddenly Walker was summoned back from the practice squad.

When Matt Rhule was fired after the Panthers 1-4 start that included the Mayfield injury, interim head coach Steve Wilks stepped in and named Walker his starter for the road game against the Rams in Los Angeles. Carolina fell to 1-5 but Wilks stayed focused on improving with Walker pulling the trigger on offense. That paid off with another crucial divisional win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs. The Panthers have a strong opportunity to control their destiny in the NFC South heading into Atlanta for NFL Week 8. "I know the guys up front, the guys in the receiving room and the running back room they all got trust in me and having the trust of those guys just helps," Walker said.

Through three games this season Walker has put up strong passing numbers with a 70.5 completion percentage, 297 yards 2 TD’s no interceptions and 32.2 quarterback rating. His decision making has been on point and that’s why the team has been fired up and inspired about his natural leadership by example. Walker said that he is able to see and read defensive schemes much better and very confident in his ability to improvise under pressure. He also talked about the entire squad having to make adjustments with the recent trade of superstar Christian McCaffrey, but he’s proud of all the players and coaches in the Carolina locker room never giving up after such a tough start

This Sunday’s divisional matchup with the Falcons will be yet another test for Walker. He certainly has shown that he can make all the necessary throws and distribute the football efficiently to several receivers and the tight ends in Ben McAdoo’s offense. His linemen along with running backs are providing strong support and Atlanta definitely was exploited by Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati offense last week. With the NFC South up for grabs Walker can continue to help Carolina’s defense by sustaining drives, improving third down efficiency and consistently putting points on the board. Of course protecting the football is a must, and Walker will stay in a position of strength at QB even though both Mayfield and Darnold can possibly play. He is currently under another one year contract with the Panthers and can solidify his NFL career more with a solid performance in this second half of the season.


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