Steve Wilks: Baker Mayfield 'definitely could' be backup QB Sunday

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Baker Mayfield was out of his walking boot Friday and "definitely could be the backup" to PJ Walker on Sunday when the Carolina Panthers play the Los Angeles Rams, interim coach Steve Wilks said.

"Baker had a great workout this morning," Wilks said. "He looked good. ... The strength staff took him through a very intense workout -- good movement, change of direction and really trying to put some pressure on his ankle.

"He threw the ball well."

Mayfield suffered a left ankle sprain near the end of the first half of the 37-15 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in what turned out to be the final game at Carolina for coach Matt Rhule, who was fired Monday after a 1-4 start to this season and 11-27 record since 2020.

Despite reports that Mayfield would miss two to six weeks, Wilks said Wednesday the first pick of the 2018 draft was day-to-day and didn't rule him out of being available Sunday.

"He's a very tough guy," said Wilks, who was the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns in 2019 while Mayfield was there. "We will wait and see the final report on the MRI."

The only other quarterback on the roster is Jacob Eason, a member of the practice squad. He still could be called up to the regular roster.

Walker is set to make his third NFL start. He is 2-0 in the past two years, with wins against Detroit in 2020 and the Arizona Cardinals in 2021. He completed 24 of 34 pass attempts for 258 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions in a 20-0 victory against the Lions.

He completed 22 of 29 attempts for 167 yards with no touchdowns and one interception against the Cardinals.

The former XFL star was 5-for-6 for 60 yards in a mop-up role in the loss Sunday.

"He's a ballplayer," offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said. "He was here all offseason for us. In training camp he was dealt a tough hand. We drafted a quarterback [Matt Corral] and traded for a quarterback [Mayfield] so the reps were hard to come by.

"He's a gritty guy. He made a decision to fight through a tough situation and you're seeing that paying off now."