NFC Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Baker Mayfield


Falcons G Jalen Mayfield is nearing a return after going on injured reserve to start the season. Mayfield had already lost the starting left guard job in camp after failing to improve from a rough rookie season. He’s trying to keep perspective, however, and get ready for his next opportunity whenever it comes. 

“There were a lot of good things I did. I played some good games. I struggled at points in time,” he said via the Athletic’s Josh Kendall. “There’s a lot of good, a lot of bad, just like every NFL player. You can’t dwell on the negative.”

Mayfield played tackle in college and had to adjust to guard as a rookie. He says he now has a better idea of what is required of him to play that position at a high level. 

“There’s a lot of growing pains in playing a new position,” he said. “I know where my strengths are, and I still know where my weaknesses are. Just kind of taking these days of practice and building up to where I can take that big jump from Year 1 to Year 2.”

Baker Mayfield

Panthers QB Baker Mayfield isn’t worried about what his future holds. He’s worried about doing his job to keep Carolina in the divisional race.

It’s pretty important to win, considering we’re still in a division race,” Mayfield said, via ESPN. “That’s where I’m at. I’m not worried about everything else. It’ll take care of itself as long as I do my job. We’ll see where it goes.

Mayfield isn’t worried about getting his starting job back full time.

I’m just trying to win,” he said. “I’m not worried about it being my job, quote unquote. I know what I’m capable of. This team does as well. I’m going to go out there fully confident and ready to win.

Panthers’ interim HC Steve Wilks said the team’s commitment to the run game will help generate better play from the quarterback position.

It’s really taking the pressure off anybody that’s playing quarterback,” Wilks said. “They don’t have to really sit back there and try to win the game for us. We’re going to try to establish what we do up front and give him a clean pocket when he tries to push the ball downfield.

Mayfield embraces the responsibility of playing the most important position on the field.

I wouldn’t call it pressure,” Mayfield said. “I always feel really accountable to put us in position to win. That’s my job. You touch the ball every single play, you have a big impact on that. Being able to put us in that position is a big responsibility, and I enjoy that. I put a lot of that on myself, but it’s not pressure.


Panthers interim HC Steve Wilks said he is most proud of the team’s resiliency since he’s taken over for former HC Matt Rhule

“Just really the mindset of fighting and just trying to be resilient,” Wilks said, via David Newton of ESPN. “Within this league you’re going to hit some doggone rough spots. We talk about this thing being a heavyweight fight and you don’t have to win every round, but you have to win the fight.”

Panthers OT Cameron Erving believes that Wilks is the “right man for the job” and players are “buying in” for the interim head coach. 

“He’s the right man for the job,” said offensive tackle Cameron Erving. “I’ve had a lot of coaches, man, and you don’t get the feeling from everybody that you get from Coach Wilks. The results may not always be there as far as wins, but the guys are buying in and that’s what’s key to turning an organization around.”

Panthers QB P.J. Walker said he’s been impressed with Wilks managing the situation in Carolina and reiterated that players are responding well to him. 

“Just taking control of us, taking control of the situation,” Walker said of what impressed players of Wilks’ decisions. “He’s been put in a crazy situation. The players have responded to him really well, and everybody’s fighting to continue to grow for him as a team.”

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