CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Meeting with the media on Wednesday, Sam Darnold did what he's supposed to do on the field.
Focus on the basics, and don't turn anything valuable over.
The new Carolina Panthers quarterback didn't provide his old team, the New York Jets, with any bulletin board material ahead of Sunday's opening game in Charlotte.
Even when it was pointed out that this is surely not just like any other game.
"But it is," Darnold said. "Honestly, we're all excited in the locker room to just play football. Play in front of a crowd, especially here in Charlotte."
The 24-year-old former first-round pick spent his first three NFL seasons with the Jets, and looked promising to start, but he and the team quickly plummeted under ex-head coach Adam Gase.
Darnold threw 45 touchdowns in three seasons (17 the first, then 19 and 9) along with 39 interceptions.
He completed just 59.8% of his passes and was ranked as the worst starting quarterback as rated by ESPN's QBR metric.
Supporters think a fresh start in Carolina, with better coaching and complementary players on offense, will help.
"Yeah, I'm excited to play the Jets," Darnold said, "and see what this football team can do. I'm excited to play consistent and play within myself."
Asked a few times about the contest being a chance for revenge, or to compare his new team to his old one, Darnold did just that.
"No. My job is to go out there and play good football and that's all I'm thinking about," Darnold said.
'Captain' Wilson prepared to lead Jets into season opener
Zach Wilson is a rookie, a leader and one of the New York Jets’ team captains.
It’s an impressive first impression for the young quarterback who’s preparing for his NFL regular-season debut Sunday at Carolina.
The Jets zeroed in on Wilson and made the former BYU star the No. 2 overall draft pick in April.
Wilson has opened eyes with his preparation, namely his process that is more like that of a veteran.
He was selected a team captain on offense by his teammates in what is a clear indication that they already believe in him despite his rookie status.