The Panthers will play out the rest of the 2022 season without their head coach, and they might have to take the field this weekend without their starting quarterback, too.
Baker Mayfield suffered a high ankle sprain in Sunday's loss to San Francisco, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Monday, per sources informed of the situation. The nature of the injury means Mayfield is expected to miss some time, though the duration remains undetermined until results come back from more tests and additional opinions.
Mayfield's injury is just the latest bump in what has already been a treacherous road for the quarterback. His first season with Carolina has been dreadful, with Mayfield failing to find a rhythm consistent enough to help the Panthers to victory. The QB has struggled with passes batted at the line of scrimmage, inaccuracy issues and a general lack of comfort operating within the Panthers' offense, producing the lowest passer rating of his career to this point at 71.9. He owns a 4-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio and, like the Panthers, has just one win to his name in the first five weeks of the season.
Head coach Matt Rhule was fired on Monday as a result of these failures. Carolina's 2022 season has already been a massive disappointment, and Mayfield's injury doesn't improve the dim outlook in Charlotte.
Walker has been with Carolina since 2020, joining the Panthers after finding success with the Houston Roughnecks from the short-lived reboot of the XFL. He began his professional career with the Indianapolis Colts in 2017, and the Temple product followed his former collegiate coach to Carolina when the Panthers hired Rhule in 2020.
Walker has appeared in 10 games with the Panthers, winning both of his starts in 2020 and 2021. He'll stand as the Panthers' best remaining hope while Carolina waits for either Mayfield to make his way back to the field, or for Sam Darnold to return from injured reserve. Jacob Eason is another option on the Panthers' practice squad.