CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WGHP) — The Carolina Panthers released their opening depth chart on Tuesday.
While it’s still early and the team’s three preseason games will determine a lot moving forward, there are still some interesting notes to take.
Starters: Baker Mayfield/Sam Darnold
Backups: PJ Walker, Matt Corral
Matt Rhule has said that he will likely not name a starter at the quarterback position until Aug. 19 after the Panthers play the New England Patriots in a preseason game.
However, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Mayfield is the favorite to win the job over Darnold.
The Panthers traded for Mayfield in July to compete with last year’s starter in Darnold and the rookie Corral.
Speaking of Corral, he is currently listed behind last year’s backup, Walker, on the depth chart. While Corral has flashed potential in training camp, his placement behind Walker is a likely indication that he will not compete for the starting job this season.
Starter: Brady Christensen
Backup: Ikem Ekwonu
The other notable position battle in training camp for the Panthers is the duel between NC State star Ikem Ekwonu, the team’s sixth overall selection, and Brady Christensen, a third-round pick in his second season.
Christensen was lauded for his performances in college at BYU but fell in the draft due to concerns around his arm length. Ekwonu was considered by scouts to be the best available offensive lineman in the 2022 NFL Draft but was noted for needing to improve his pass blocking technique.
Christensen is listed as the clear starter rather than sharing the title with Ekwonu, which indicates that he is ahead of the rookie thus far in training camp.
Most theorized that Ekwonu’s selection meant that one of the two tackles would change positions to left guard, however, neither is listed as a guard on the depth chart.
Starters: Pat Elflein/Bradley Bozeman
Backup: Sam Tecklenburg
The Panthers made what many called one of the best bargain signings of the offseason when they signed Bradley Bozeman to a very affordable one-year deal. Bozeman helped contribute to the dominant rushing attacks of the Baltimore Ravens the last few seasons.
Elflein began last season as the Panthers starting left guard where he struggled, however, an injury forced Elflein to move to center where his play noticeably improved.
However, most anticipated that Bozeman would likely be the starter come time for Week One.
A likely explanation for why Elflein is listed as a starter is his established chemistry with Darnold from last season as Darnold continues to split first-team reps with Mayfield.
It is likely that the starting center will come down to which quarterback wins the starting job, meaning Bozeman will likely be the Week One starter alongside Mayfield and Elflein will start if Darnold can win the job.
Week One: @Washington Commanders, Aug. 13 at 1:00 p.m.
Week Two: vs. New England Patriots, Aug. 19 at 7:00 p.m.
Week Three: vs. Buffalo Bills, Aug. 26 at 7:00 p.m.