Sep 12, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA;  Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) scores a touchdown in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Darnold haunts former team as Panthers top Jets

Sam Darnold had a solid debut with the Carolina Panthers and his new team’s defense ruined New York Jets rookie Zach Wilson’s first NFL game in a 19-14 victory Sunday afternoon at Charlotte, N.C.

Darnold had a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown against his former team, with 279 yards passing by going 24 of 35 with no interceptions.

The outcome also upended the Jets head coaching debut of Robert Saleh, who had been a San Francisco 49ers assistant coach.

Wilson, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, ended up 20 of 37 for 258 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

The Jets managed only 252 yards of total offense while Wilson was sacked six times for minus-51 yards.

Darnold also made good use of running back Christian McCaffrey, the Carolina standout who was limited to three games last season because of injuries.

McCaffrey was Carolina’s leading rusher and receiver. He gained 98 yards on 21 carries on the ground, including a key 18-yard run on the game’s last possession to help the Panthers close out the victory. He also caught nine passes for 89 yards.

Wilson’s first touchdown pass went for 22 yards to Corey Davis with 1:25 remaining in the third quarter. Wilson ran in a two-point conversion as the Jets trimmed their deficit to 16-8.

Ryan Santoso’s 29-yard field goal for Carolina pushed the Jet’s gap to 19-8 with 8:44 remaining.

New York made it interesting when Wilson connected with Davis for an 8-yard touchdown with 1:56 left to get within the final margin. Wilson’s two-point conversion pass failed.

At the midway mark of the second quarter, the Panthers had outgained New York 153-51, yet held only a 3-0 lead on Santoso’s 22-yard field goal. Those points came after Carolina linebacker Shaq Thompson returned a Wilson interception 29 yards to the Jets’ 32.

Darnold threw a 57-yard TD pass to Robby Anderson on the first play of a possession and then ran 5 yards on a quarterback draw for a score as part of Carolina’s 16-point second quarter.

By halftime, Darnold had thrown for 234 yards and was on his way to erasing some of the misery that developed during his past three seasons with the Jets.

Davis had 97 yards on five receptions for the Jets.

–Field Level Media

May 15, 2021;Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; First round pick Jaycee Horn (8) looks over his new helmet during Carolina Panthers Rookie Camp at the Atrium Training Facility in Charlotte, NC. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

First-round pick Jaycee Horn, Panthers agree to deal

The Carolina Panthers are set to sign 2021 first-round draft pick Jaycee Horn to his rookie contract worth $21.112 million.

All first-round draft picks receive a four-year contract with a team-held option for the fifth season.

The Panthers selected Horn with the eighth overall pick of the NFL Draft out of South Carolina. Horn, the son of four-time Pro Bowl wideout Joe Horn, is a cornerback and the first defensive player chosen in the draft.

Jaycee Horn, 21, had 16 tackles, two interceptions and six passes defensed in seven games last season for the Gamecocks. In his three-year career at South Carolina, he finished with 101 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and 23 passes defensed in 30 games.

–Field Level Media

Oct 4, 2020; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore (12) throws the ball back during pre-game warm ups before a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Agent: Panthers picking up WR DJ Moore’s option

The Carolina Panthers are picking up the fifth-year option on wideout DJ Moore’s contract, agent Drew Rosenhaus told reporters Thursday.

The 2018 first-round pick will earn $11.1 million in 2022.

Moore, 24, registered his second straight 1,000-yard season in 2020 and has only missed two games in three years.

He enters 2021 with 208 receptions for 3,156 yards and 10 touchdowns, plus 234 rushing yards on 21 attempts, in 46 games (39 starts).

–Field Level Media

Sep 13, 2020; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; A general view during the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers transitioning to artificial turf for home games

The Carolina Panthers’ home field will have a new playing surface in 2021.

Bank of America Stadium will transition from grass to artificial turf in advance of the Panthers’ preseason schedule in August.

The decision was made to help the Panthers and the Charlotte Football Club of Major League Soccer, which will begin playing their home games at the venue in 2022.

Tepper Sports & Entertainment vice president and chief operating officer of the Panthers, Mark Hart, discussed the difficulties of sticking with a grass surface now that NFL, MLS, college football games, concerts and other events are expected to take place at the stadium.

“We believe a synthetic surface provides the best solution,” Hart said. “We have conveyed our commitment to the players to maintain this field as a level consistent with the highest standards.”

In addition to Panthers games, the stadium has played host to college football’s ACC Championship and the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. It also is expected to be the venue for the Georgia-Clemson college football opener Sept. 4.

The Panthers first began playing on their grass surface in 1996.

Carolina’s football schedule, including the preseason, is set to be released on May 12.

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans NFL defensive line DaQuan Jones

Panthers sign veteran DT DaQuan Jones to 1-year deal

The Carolina Panthers signed veteran defensive tackle DaQuan Jones to a one-year deal on Tuesday.

Jones, 29, started all 16 games in five of the last six seasons with the Tennessee Titans.

A fourth-round pick by Tennessee in 2014, Jones has 235 tackles, nine sacks, 26 quarterback hits and two fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown) in 99 career games (93 starts).

With the Panthers, Jones fills a void created by the offseason departures of Kawann Short and Zach Kerr.

–Field Level Media

Sep 22, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Detailed view of Carolina Panthers helmets against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers offer Scott Fitterer their GM job

After interviewing 15 candidates, the Carolina Panthers have offered Seattle Seahawks VP of football operations Scott Fitterer their vacant general manager position.

Fitterer would replace Marty Hurney, who was dismissed as GM on Dec. 21.

Fitterer would be leaving Seattle, where he has worked since 2001, including assisting Seahawks GM John Schneider since 2010. He started with the Seahawks as an area scout, was then the regional director of college scouting and then moved into player personnel, including time as Seattle’s co-director of player personnel before getting promoted to VP.

In Fitterer’s time in Seattle, the Seahawks have gone to the Super Bowl three times, including a win in Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014.

The Panthers have finished 5-11 the past two seasons, had a losing record three straight years, and go into the 2021 NFL Draft with the eighth pick overall.

–Field Level Media