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PJ Walker preparing like he will start for Panthers against New England

With Sam Darnold "extremely limited" at practice Wednesday, P.J. Walker said he's preparing to start for the Panthers against the Patriots Sunday.
Credit: AP
Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker (6) throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers could have a new starting quarterback Sunday when they take the field against the New England Patriots. 

P.J. Walker said Wednesday that he's preparing as if he will start for Carolina when they host the Patriots. Starting quarterback Sam Darnold was "extremely limited" in practice due to a concussion he suffered against Atlanta, head coach Matt Rhule said. As a result, Walker took first-team reps in his absence. 

Rhule confirmed Darnold was still in the NFL's concussion protocol Wednesday. He also injured his throwing shoulder on a jarring hit against the Falcons. 

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The Panthers also welcomed Christian McCaffrey back to practice for the first time in three weeks after designating him to return from injured reserve. McCaffrey hasn't played since injuring his hamstring in Week 3 against the Houston Texans. His absence has pushed rookie running back Chuba Hubbard into a starting role and the Panthers' offense has struggled without McCaffrey. 

Darnold was benched in an ugly 25-3 loss to the New York Giants but returned to start against Atlanta. Despite rumors that the Panthers were interested in Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, Carolina didn't make any moves before this week's trade deadline to find a new starter. Rhule has consistently backed Darnold since trading for him in the offseason. 

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