Matt Rhule’s “been nothing but pleased” with Sam Darnold

Sport

Panthers coach Matt Rhule wasn’t thrilled with the performance of his team’s offense in Thursday’s joint practice with the Colts, but his distaste for the effort didn’t extend to quarterback Sam Darnold.

Rhule called Darnold “the least of our problems” and complimented the way that he protected the football, which wasn’t something that always happened when Darnold was playing for the Jets the last three seasons. Rhule’s happiness with Darnold’s play extends beyond Thursday’s practice and he told reporters that he thinks the quarterback’s comfort level with a new offense is growing.

“I think he’s made a lot of really good decisions,” Rhule said, via Schuyler Callahan of SI.com. “He’s a grinder, he’s coachable. I’ve been nothing but pleased with Sam. I think when he does something that we don’t want and we tell him, right away it’s ‘got it’. I think Sam is getting pretty comfortable back there. We have a pretty good rush, pretty good blitz package so he’s seeing a lot of things. He’s protecting the ball. I think we had a tipped pick in the red zone, so there are always things to learn from but I do think he’s comfortable back there but we’ll see when we get to Sunday. It always changes when we get to live and a chance to get hit.”

After three years behind a shaky Jets line, Darnold will be hoping that those hits are few and far between in his first shot at running the show for Carolina.