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Baker Mayfield beats Sam Darnold in Panthers QB battle, will start Week 1

Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield will start in Week 1 against his former team, the Cleveland Browns. Photo by Chanelle Smith-Walker/Carolina Panthers
1 of 6 | Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield will start in Week 1 against his former team, the Cleveland Browns. Photo by Chanelle Smith-Walker/Carolina Panthers

Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Baker Mayfield edged Sam Darnold in a competition held to determine the Carolina Panthers' top quarterback and will start Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns, the Panthers announced Monday.

The Panthers listed Mayfield "or" Darnold as their starter earlier this month on their first unofficial depth chart. Backups P.J. Walker and Matt Corral were listed behind Mayfield and Darnold.

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Corral is out indefinitely with a foot injury he sustained Friday in a preseason loss to the New England Patriots.

Darnold completed 59.9% of his throws for 2,527 yards, nine scores and 13 interceptions in 12 games last season for the Panthers. He is set to hit free agency next off-season.

The Browns traded Mayfield to the Panthers this off-season in exchange for a conditional 2024 NFL Draft pick. The Panthers selected Corral in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Mayfield entered the league as the No. 1 overall pick by the Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft. The New York Jets selected Darnold two picks later at No. 3 overall. The Jets then traded the former USC star to the Panthers in 2021.

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Mayfield completed 60.5% of his throws for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 14 starts last season. He also is set to hit free agency next off-season.

Neither Mayfield nor Darnold played against the Patriots. Mayfield completed 4 of 7 passes for 45 yards in the Panthers' first preseason game, a 23-21 win over the Washington Commanders on Aug. 13 in Landover, Md. Darnold completed 2 of 3 passes for 16 yards and a touchdown against the Commanders.

The Panthers will face the Buffalo Bills in their preseason finale at 7 p.m. EDT Friday in Charlotte, N.C. They will host the Browns at 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 11 at Bank of America Stadium.

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