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Carolina Panthers

Notebook: Baker Mayfield adds clarity to story

Baker Mayfield

CHARLOTTE – Baker Mayfield admits he has an edge to him in Carolina, and that it's clear to his teammates and those around him.

But the Panthers' quarterback said he chose to take a different approach off the field and outside of the locker room this season, keeping his more fiery side at a "minimum."

So when it was reported that during the preseason finale against the Bills, Mayfield used an expletive to describe how much he wanted to defeat the Browns – his former team – in Week 1, Mayfield described the conversation differently.

"First, I didn't say it," Mayfield said Wednesday after practice. "Everybody's going to write whatever story they want, and there's history that I played (in Cleveland) the last four years. I'm an extremely competitive person. Everybody knows that...I want to win in everything I do. That'll never change. Now, that is not how I phrased it. That's not even what I said."

Mayfield explained he spoke with Buffalo sideline reporter Cynthia Frelund, whom he said he's known for years, but that the full story of their encounter did not include explicit language directed toward the Browns.

"She said I looked happy, looked healthy, looked like I was in a good place, I said, 'Yeah,'" Mayfield explained. "She said, 'I hope you go take it over,' and obviously (was) descriptive, but I said, 'Yeah, me too.' So that's the extent of it.

"It's obviously a bigger story because I haven't given the media what they've wanted me to give them this year and this offseason. So this is what they think that I've said, and it's not. So, take it and run with it, but I know what I did, and our team knows what I said, so it's alright."

When asked about the comments, Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett said the Browns have "known (Mayfield) has that type of demeanor and that attitude." Mayfield reiterated that it's an attitude he is keeping for his teammates and those closest to him.

"I keep it in-house," Mayfield said. "I talk to our guys, and (Garrett is) a person that I played with for four years, so he knows how I'm wired, how I compete every single day in everything I do, so (that comment) is to be expected."

While the story has kept football fans online buzzing for over 24 hours, head coach Matt Rhule shrugged when asked if it was a distraction, saying: "I wasn't distracted by it." Mayfield said it "didn't matter" in the grand scheme of the season.

"Football is a violent, very emotional, passionate sport, and that's the way I've always played it," Mayfield said. "I'm not going to change that. In the grand scheme of things, it's a great storyline – it really is – because I wasn't expected to be out of Cleveland. But after Week 1, there are 16 more that really, really matter. That's how I'm approaching it."

— The attendance at practice was down a bit Wednesday, as they went from 80 at practice on Monday to a 53-man roster (along with the addition of 14 practice squad signings).

Rhule admitted it was a bit of a "weird week" since they practiced today and will follow tomorrow with a three-day weekend, so they're using the time to focus on their own stuff rather than preparing heavily for the opener against Cleveland.

It's still a bit of a different look when they get to the regular season number.

The Panthers were without a few guys on Wednesday.

Backup guard Michael Jordan (personal matter) was absent, and there was a much smaller group of players on bikes on the side as they recovered from injuries.

Backup quarterback Sam Darnold was out there with a boot on his left ankle. Rhule said Darnold would likely miss between four to six weeks (meaning he'll likely end up on IR soon, allowing them to fill the roster spot for at least four weeks). But there was some initial concern the injury might push out longer than that, so they were relieved his absence wouldn't be an extended one.

Cornerback Stantley Thomas-Oliver III was also in a boot, and was on the side along with tight end Giovanni Ricci and defensive end Amaré Barno. But none of those seem like long-term issues.

— Wednesday was another reunion day, as former quarterback Jake Delhomme was on hand at practice.

Delhomme spent some time catching up with former teammates Dan Morgan (now the assistant GM) and Thomas Davis (who has been a regular at practice).

— New kicker Eddy Piñeiro is still en route, but Rhule said he was impressed with the addition.

Particularly vivid in Rhule's mind was a 53-yard game-winning field goal as time expired for the Bears at Denver (which Piñeiro made in 2019, when his special teams coach was Panthers assistant Chris Tabor).

Pineiro agreed to terms on a one-year deal earlier Wednesday, and will sign after he passes a physical.

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