Panthers head coach Matt Rhule spoke to the media on Monday for the first time since the team traded for quarterback Sam Darnold and that trade was the primary topic of conversation in that session.
Rhule resisted calling Darnold the team’s starting quarterback, but didn’t seem to leave much doubt that the team expects to have the 2018 Jets first-round pick in the lineup come the start of the regular season. He said the team is hopeful that the move to Carolina will result in a “tremendous time” for a player they think can play at a “high level.”
“We believe in Sam,” Rhule said. “We believe in his skill set. We believe in his approach. . . . I don’t think there’s a game you watch, he doesn’t make a play where you don’t say ‘there it is.’ I think his arm talent, his movement, are a great fit for the guys here that he’ll be playing with.”
Rhule said he met Darnold in person for the first time a few minutes before the press conference, but he did have a chance to speak with him while he was interviewing for the Jets head coaching job in 2019. While Rhule and the Jets couldn’t come to an agreement at that point, the two men still wound up working together.