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Sam Darnold on battle with Baker Mayfield: 'In our eyes, we're both the starting QB'

Sam Darnold enters the last season of his rookie contract in a training camp battle with former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold said all the right things about his competition with Baker Mayfield Tuesday, telling reporters he's eager to compete with the former Heisman Trophy winner to be the team's starter this season. 

Darnold met with the media shortly after arriving at Wofford College for training camp, and for the most part (it is talking season, after all) he said the right things about his status as QB1.

Darnold struggled in his first season with the Panthers, which led to the team bringing in Mayfield from Cleveland to challenge him for the position. 

"For me, it's just keeping my head down and continuing to work and learn the system and go about it like that," Darnold said. "Competition is always healthy for everyone. Me and Baker are going to compete and have a good time doing it."

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Darnold finished last season with more turnovers than touchdowns and missed a few games with a broken shoulder blade. Cam Newton was brought back, but when he struggled, Darnold finished the season as the starter. Now, two of the first three picks in the 2018 NFL Draft find themselves fighting for a job. 

"We are cool," Darnold said of his relationship with Mayfield. "I'm sure when things start rolling in camp it's going to be fun. We're going to be able to compete and have fun with it, but at the end of the day, it's a business and we both take our craft and what we do very seriously. 

"In our eyes, we're both the starting QB for this team, so it's about going out there and competing."

New offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo was complimentary of Darnold in April, before walking back a statement that he'd be the starting quarterback. Head coach Matt Rhule said the starter will be decided by how each quarterback performs between now and the regular season.  

"My job is not to pick the starting quarterback," Rhule said. "It's my decision, but it's the guys' play."

Darnold also denied asking for a trade, saying he isn't the kind of player to avoid competition. 

"First of all, I'm not in a position to be able to do that," Darnold said. "And that's just not who I am."

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