Sam Darnold to miss several weeks with right shoulder injury

Sam Darnold’s first season with the Carolina Panthers started out so promisingly, but now is in jeopardy of being over.

Sam Darnold has right shoulder blade fracture and is likely to miss several weeks with the injury, according to an ESPN report Tuesday.

The Panthers, who are 4-5 after a 3-0 start, said they believe the injury happened in the second quarter of the team’s 24-6 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Darnold was struggling before he suffered the injury, throwing three interceptions in the loss. His most damaging interception was one returned 88 yards by J.C. Jackson for a touchdown, when Darnold missed tight end Ian Thomas, who was wide open.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule said Monday that Darnold reported soreness in his shoulder after the game and was sent for an MRI exam.

Sam Darnold
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The fortunes of the 24-year-old Darnold — acquired by the Panthers in an offseason trade with the New York Jets — plummeted after star running back Christian McCaffrey went down with a hamstring injury in Week 3. McCaffrey returned Sunday against the Patriots, but it wasn’t enough to help the Panthers or Darnold, who has thrown 10 interceptions in the past six games, five of them losses. He is tied with Joe Burrow for the NFL lead with 11 interceptions this season.

P.J. Walker will replace Darnold as the team’s starting quarterback, starting with Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. The Panthers also announced that they planned to sign veteran quarterback Matt Barkley off the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad, pending a physical.

In nine games this season, Darnold — who is 17-30 as a starter, including 13-25 during his three-year Jets tenure — has thrown for 1,986 yards with seven touchdowns while completing 59.5 percent of his pass attempts. He also has five rushing touchdowns.