Looming to meet Baker Mayfield over the opening game Browns-Panthers

August 19, 2022;  Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA;  Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) walks off the field after the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.  Mandatory credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

As if Baker Mayfield isn’t already spotlighting wherever he goes, the 2022 season opener brings an extra level of brilliance to the Carolina Panthers’ new quarterback.

Mayfield’s presence is expected to be looming large since arriving from the Cleveland Browns on a deal in July.

Now comes Baker’s chance to make his mark on the pitch when the Panthers open the season on Sunday afternoon at home against these Browns.

The Panthers’ trade for Mayfield came after Brown acquired QB Deshaun Watson in March.

“It ended so abruptly and unexpectedly, but we’re here now,” Mayfield said Wednesday. “Everything happens for a reason and I’m dealing with punches.”

At least in the lead-up to Sunday’s game, Mayfield tried to downplay his former team’s decision to move into a new direction.

It doesn’t give me an advantage, it doesn’t give them an advantage,” Mayfield said. “It gives us familiarity.”

Mayfield won the Panthers’ first job in QB in a training camp competition with Sam Darnold, who has since made it to the injury list.

“This system would suit me well,” Mayfield said. “The whole crime will grow.”

Brown doesn’t want to be consumed with the quarterback saga either, even though they created it.

“It’s the Browns’ game against the Panthers,” Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski said. “It is very simple. We have to prepare to attack, defend and their own teams.”

Carolina coach Matt Roll said his teammates questioned Mayfield in order to gain insight into Brown.

Stefansky said Browns don’t want to change their leanings just because Mayfield is on the other side.

“You don’t want to overthink these kinds of things,” said Stefanski, who admitted changing some of the cues and running the calls before the confrontation.

Brown’s side will get Jacoby Brissett as the starting quarterback, with Watson providing an 11-match suspension to start the season over accusations of sexual misconduct.

Brissett is familiar to many in North Carolina having finished his college career in North Carolina in 2014-15.

The Cleveland offense also added four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Amary Cooper in a deal with the Dallas Cowboys.

Brown has nine out of 11 defensive players starting in 2021, making this side of the ball the team’s potential strength at least until Brissett and attacking find a groove. Defense ends Miles Jarrett (Brown scored in one season 16 sacks last season) and Jadevion Clooney Mayfield will follow.

Neither team made a postseason last year with 0.500 sub-records. The Panthers were 5-12, while the Browns were a disappointing 8-9.

“The first game offers a little bit of a thrill,” said Rolle.

It’s a bit of a return to cheetah stories. Last September, Darnold was in his first game with the Carolinas and faced his former team, the New York Jets, in Charlotte and came out on top.

That gave the Panthers their first inaugural season victory since 2018.

The Panthers have new player Eddy Pineiro, who has spent time with six organizations and notably played all 16 games for the Chicago Bears 2019. He was 8 of 8 in field goals last year for the Jets.

Rolle said the Panthers are excited to start over, but he’d like to see the kind of focus they’ve had over the past month.

“They did a great job in this whole camp, and I just reminded them to stay that way this week,” he said.

The only Carolina player on the injury list was defender Giovanni Ricci, who was limited in Wednesday’s workout due to a groin ailment. He plays in several special teams.

The Panthers 4-2 all-time (and 2-0 at home) against Cleveland, although Brown won their last encounter of 2018 in the junior season for Mayfield.

-Med Level Media

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