1) The Panthers are hoping they have their franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold. They might have a viable backup in P.J. Walker. The former XFL star shined in Sunday’s preseason opener versus the Colts. With Carolina’s projected starters reduced to spectators, Walker wasted no time making his mark on the competition between him and Will Grier. The 5-foot-11 dual-threat bounced around in the pocket before finding an open Terrace Marshall Jr. for a 60-yard gain on the Panthers’ first possession. He completed four of his first five throws for 94 yards but the drive stalled in the red zone, which would repeat itself a couple times. He did ensure at least one offensive trip reached the end zone. After dropping a dime between a Colts corner and safety for a long completion, Walker scrambled to his right and hit Tommy Tremble for an 8-yard score and the team’s fourth scoring drive of the half. The 26-year-old QB made his NFL debut last year in a spot start for the Panthers after spending three years on Indianapolis’ practice squad — with an impressive stint in the XFL mixed in-between. He was easily the best QB to play for Carolina on Sunday, with his legs proving to be just as valuable as his right arm.
2) Indianapolis signed Pro Bowler Eric Fisher a few weeks after the NFL draft to be its left tackle for 2021. The only issue is Fisher, coming off a torn Achilles, isn’t expected to be available for the start of the season. The Colts’ alternatives did nothing to quell those concerns. Julie’n Davenport got the start versus Carolina and immediately struggled in pass protection. Will Holden soon entered and was beaten badly off the line by Marquis Haynes, leading to a strip-sack by the Panthers pass rusher inside Indy’s 20-yard line. He was then called for holding the following drive. His performance proved quite a bit better in run blocking as the game wore on. Carolina’s reserve defensive front also had its way with OT Sam Tevi, another candidate to occupy the blind side and who allowed a sack while manning right tackle. It especially made life interesting for Jacob Eason in his NFL debut. The Colts might need to consider external options until Fisher is ready to return.