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The Panthers’ Baker Mayfield is focused on winning, not his future

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Charlotte, Nick — Baker Mayfield He admits there were times in the last month when he wondered if he’d get another chance to start for the Carolina Panthers and what that would mean for his future as an NFL quarterback.

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The first pick from the 2018 draft also insists his future is not the prospect who will start Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens (6-3).

“It’s important to win, considering we’re still in a division race,” Mayfield said Wednesday. “That’s where I am. I’m not worried about everything else. He’ll take care of himself as long as I do my job. We’ll see where he goes.”

Interim head coach Steve Wilkes named Mayfield the starting linebacker Monday after an MRI determined PJ Walker He suffered a sprained ankle in a 25-15 win Thursday night over the Atlanta Falcons that left Carolina (3-7) just two games short of Tampa Bay (5-5) in the NFC South.

This would be Mayfield’s first start since a Week 5 loss to the San Francisco 49ers where he was replaced by Walker due to a sprained ankle. He has been Walker’s backup for the past four games despite being healthy enough to play.

Mayfield, in the final year of his rookie contract, said Sunday wasn’t about getting the full-time job back.

He said, “I’m just trying to win.” “I’m not worried about it being my job, quote without quote. I know what I can do. This team does too. I’m going out there completely confident and ready to win.”

Mayfield looked fine in Wednesday’s practice, Wilkes said, but “nothing over the top”. He said consistency is what he’s looking for from Mayfield on Sunday, and said he believes Carolina’s commitment to running the past five games should help the quarterback achieve that.

Carolina averaged 29.8 rushing per game and 146.2 rushing yards under Wilkes, compared to 20.6 rushing per game and 89.8 rushing yards in their first five games under former head coach Matt Rule when Mayfield was the starter.

“It takes the pressure off anyone who plays quarterback,” Wilkes said of the running game. “They don’t have to sit there and try to win the game for us. We’ll try to limit what we do up front and give him a clean pocket when he tries to get the ball down.”

Mayfield had an overall quarterback rating of 15.3, the lowest in the NFL and the lowest over five games since ESPN began using the statistic in 2006, during a 1-4 start.

He has been sacked 15 times—Walker has been sacked five times in the past five games—and was on his way to career lows in nearly every statistical category before he was replaced.

“We just found our identity over time,” Mayfield said of the crime.

Mayfield’s only playing time over the past five weeks came in the second half of a November 6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in which Carolina trailed 35-0 at halftime with Walker throwing two interceptions and recording a 0.0 passer rating.

Mayfield completed 14 of 20 pass attempts for 155 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions against the Bengals for a season-high 83.4 total QBR.

It wasn’t enough for Mayfield to get his starting job back in Thursday night’s game against Atlanta, and Mayfield was fine with that even though, as a competitor, he was hoping for another shot at the time.

“The team lost,” Mayfield said of the Cincinnati game. “That’s what I said after the game and it’s true after watching the movie. It’s easy to point fingers, but we came back the next week and fought back and got the win.”

Mayfield didn’t play any upset Thursday night, but he did draw attention when his ass was taped without a helmet with several of the offensive line celebrating the victory on video.

“I’ve always done that,” Mayfield said with a smile. “I just so happened to catch the camera. I’ve done it since college. I love this game. I love my teammates. We work so hard not to have fun in this way.”

Well presented against the 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, selected with the last pick in the first round of the 2018 draft by Baltimore, could go a long way for Mayfield. knows that if he struggles, Sam Darnold3 in 2018 will be waiting in the wings.

Wilkes said he would like to have Darnold, who started the season on injured reserve with a sprained ankle, for some time before giving him another chance to start after losing his job to Mayfield in training camp.

“I wouldn’t call it pressure,” Mayfield said of his situation. “I always feel really responsible to put us in a position to win. That’s my job. You touch the ball in every game, you have a huge impact on that. To be able to put us in that position is a big responsibility, and I enjoy that.

“I put a lot of that on myself, but it’s not pressure.”

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