Jets, Panthers have QBs in the spotlight for opener

Sam Darnold has been upstaged at times during his NFL career.The new quarterback for the Carolina Panthers might be falling into that category again going into the season opener against the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.That’s because Darnold’s replacement with the Jets is Zach Wilson, who’ll make his pro debut after being selected No. 2 overall in the 2021 draft.The Panthers acquired Darnold, who played his first three seasons with the Jets, during an offseason move. That resulted in the departure of Teddy Bridgewater, who spent one season with Carolina.”With Sam, it’s a new beginning,” said Panthers receiver Robby Anderson, a sixth-year pro who spent his first four seasons with the Jets. “Lots of time, new beginnings is what a lot of us need. Turning that page to a new chapter.”For Wilson, it might be even more special as he makes the leap from BYU to Jets starter as one of the team’s captains.”For Zach, it’s about him and his process and it’s about him getting ready to play the best he possibly can,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said, noting this shouldn’t be a case of judging Wilson vs. Darnold.There’s plenty new in this matchup.Saleh makes his NFL coaching debut with the Jets after arriving from the San Francisco 49ers staff.”I’m sure I’ll be as amped up as all heck on Sunday,” said Saleh, who was San Francisco’s defensive coordinator.Matt Rhule is in his second season with Carolina after a 5-11 record in 2020, and, with the Jets’ new coaching staff and rookie QB, he’s facing a challenge.”We have to prepare for everything right now,” Rhule said. “We’re preparing for a lot of different looks, a lot of different personnel. There are just so many unknowns.”Even with the attention Wilson is receiving, the Jets could be stout on the other side despite a young defensive backfield.”They are put together really well defensively,” Rhule said.

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