The Carolina Panthers were one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams in 2017. They finished with a 6-10 record, missing the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years. However, they have found their savior in P.J. Walker, who has emerged as one of the league’s best running backs since being drafted by the team last year.
The panthers qb is a player that has been flying under the radar. P.J. Walker has been able to make plays and lead his team to victory with his accurate throws and strong arm.
P.J. Walker is a name that most NFL fans are unlikely to recognize. Walker, a former XFL quarterback who spent the most of 2020 on the Carolina Panthers’ bench, is far from an established talent in the NFL today.
Many experts and beat writers had Walker penciled in as a player who might be cut before the start of the 2021 season before the Panthers’ first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Although it is still early in the preseason, Walker has so far defied the predictions of experts and journalists. He’s working his way into a long-term contract with the Panthers.
Former XFL standout P.J. Walker
Walker inked a two-year deal with the Panthers last offseason, but he made headlines in the short-lived XFL before that. The XFL was an independent football league created by WWE owner Vince McMahon to provide fringe NFL players and undrafted free agents a chance to prove their worth to pro scouts. The league’s ardent supporters believed it would survive and eventually challenge the NFL, but that ambition was dashed after just one season.
Walker, a former Temple football player, took advantage of the organized games. He had a great season as the starting quarterback for the Houston Roughnecks, throwing for 1,338 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Walker’s performances drew global notice, particularly his last one against the Seattle Dragons on March 7, 2020. Walker had a passer rating of 104.2 and passed for 351 yards and three touchdowns.
With the Carolina Panthers, he’s found a home.
Justin Casterline/Getty Images | P.J. Walker
Walkers’ first NFL club was not the Panthers. In 2017, he signed with the Colts as an undrafted free agent after graduating from college. He spent the most of his time on the team’s practice squad until getting released in August of 2019.
Walker had a lot more success with the Panthers, owing to his prior connection with head coach Matt Rhule. Rhule was Walker’s head coach at Temple until he was hired by Carolina in 2020. Walker received a genuine contract with the Panthers as a result of this established relationship, as well as the on-field skill he showed during the XFL’s short regular season.
Walker completed 56 passes in his debut season with the Panthers and did not have much success. He threw four interceptions and just one touchdown, with a completion rate of 57.1 percent. Walker had a terrible year, but he was in the building learning an NFL system, which is usually a good sign for a player’s long-term potential.
Walker showed promise in his first preseason game.
With Sam Darnold missing out the Panthers’ first preseason game, Walker had the most of the repetitions. Despite not having his best game by any stretch of the imagination, Walker was able to regularly move the ball downfield against a Colts defense that is usually above-average.
Walker threw for 161 yards and one score in the game, including a few spectacular “Houdini” impersonation in the pocket. Walker seemed to be at ease maneuvering away from defenders while looking downfield for open receivers.
It’s only a stepping stone in Walker’s NFL career, but the Panthers may have found a guy worth investing in here. Not as a starter (obviously), but as a long-term backup to Darnold or whomever the future starting quarterback in Carolina ends up being. Walker is still just 26 years old, so he could need a few more years of growth under the tutelage of Rhule and the Panthers’ coaching staff.
If Walker is the kind of guy who can develop into a dependable QB2 for Carolina, his next two preseason outings should give us a better idea of what to anticipate from him going forward.
Pro Football Reference and stats provided all statistics. XFL.
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P.J. Walker is the hidden gem the Carolina Panthers didn’t know they needed. He has been a great asset to their offense, and will be for years to come. Reference: pj walker.
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