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Panthers, Broncos focus on better quarterback play

Scrutiny has fallen on Denver quarterback Russell Wilson, with his first season with the Broncos not going as planned.

The Carolina Panthers are also struggling with quarterback issues but they don’t have just one QB to place all the blame on.

Both teams are looking for improvement under center as Denver visits Carolina for Sunday afternoon’s game in Charlotte, N.C.

The Panthers are turning to Sam Darnold, who was the 2021 opening-day starter, to begin this game at quarterback. It will be his first start of the season.

Darnold, who made 11 starts last year, will be the third starter at quarterback in as many weeks for Carolina. Baker Mayfield’s return to that role didn’t go well vs. the Ravens.

The Panthers (3-8) didn’t score a touchdown last week at Baltimore.

“We’ve flushed it,” Carolina interim coach Steve Wilks said. “Our mindset is on Denver.”

But if the Panthers think they have problems on offense, just look at Denver.

The Broncos (3-7) have lost two games in a row.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to get that rhythm back,” Denver coach Nathaniel Hackett said. “Russell is so positive, it seems like he’s in a good place.”

The Broncos are last in the NFL in scoring at 14.7 points per game.

“Trying to find consistency and rhythm on offense,” Denver receiver Courtland Sutton said. “We’ve just got to finish at the end of the day. Losing is not OK. We have to win out to have any chance (of reaching the playoffs).”

Wilson has thrown just seven touchdowns passes to go with five interceptions. Most glaring might be that he has been sacked 32 times.

It’s unclear if receiver Jerry Jeudy will be back after missing a game with an ankle injury. Already gone from the Broncos is running back Melvin Gordon, who was waived after coughing up five fumbles despite a team-best 318 yards on the ground.

That moves Latavius Murray into the role as top running back for Denver. Running back Chase Edmonds was placed on injured reserve.

“That means more opportunities for me, so I have to take advantage,” Murray said.

Wilson will be back in the state where he played for North Carolina State before transferring to Wisconsin. The Broncos will also have receiver Kendall Hinton, a former college quarterback at Wake Forest, playing in his home state and his role has increased the past few weeks.

While acknowledging the fluid situation at quarterback — and with PJ Walker’s status unclear as he deals with an ankle injury — Wilks said attention should be spread to other spots.

“When you say inconsistent, I think you can really pinpoint it across the board at each position,” Wilks said. “We’re trying to find the right mix.”

The offensive line and secondary have been trouble spots at times for the Panthers. Now they’re addressing indecisiveness from running backs, something that was put on the list of areas to address after the Baltimore game.

“We’re all looking at options across the board,” Wilks said. “At every position right now, we’re trying to figure out who’s going to give us the best opportunity to win.”

The Panthers have won only once in seven meetings with Denver, that coming in 2008 at home. The most devastating loss for Carolina in the series came in the Super Bowl to end the 2015 season.

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