Teddy Bridgewater injured his proper knee in Week 10’s recreation in opposition to the Bucs, and was questionable heading into Week 11. If he’s dominated out Sunday, Panthers backup P.J. Walker would begin in Bridgewater’s place.
Walker needed to battle with Will Grier for the beginning job heading into Week 11. This introduced up an attention-grabbing quarterback battle as a result of on one hand, Walker has expertise with coach Matt Rhule at Temple. On the opposite hand, Grier was a third-round draft decide in 2019.
When requested whether or not every issue would play into his choice, Rhule stated he’d go together with whoever was greatest for the workforce.
“I believe the minute the blokes within the locker room say he is enjoying this man as a result of he was drafted, or this man as a result of he has historical past with him… People can suppose these issues, but when that is true, you erode the aggressive facet of the workforce,” Rhule stated. “So I simply attempt to go off what I see, and the tape, and the apply, and the conferences, and that is at each place.”
In the tip, Walker gained the job, and his presence brings again a well-known face for XFL followers.
Who is P.J. Walker?
Phillip “P.J.” Walker is at the moment on the Panthers, nevertheless it was a singular path to get right here. Walker performed below present Panthers coach Matt Rhule at Temple from 2013-2016. Oddly sufficient, their careers completely lapped one another at Temple. When Walker joined in 2013, so did Rhule. When Walker left in 2016, so did Rhule.
Walker then turned an undrafted free agent, and joined the Colts in 2017. He was on-and-off of the Colts’ apply squad numerous occasions from 2017 to 2019. In truth, Walker was lower and resigned by the Colts 11 occasions from 2017-2019.
In 2019, he was picked up by the XFL and was certainly one of eight quarterbacks within the league who was assigned to a workforce. He was assigned the Roughnecks, who instantly went and spent their first-round draft decide on one other quarterback — Connor Cook.
Some thought Cook could find yourself being the starter for Houston, however Walker gained the job. And then he took the league by storm.
P.J. Walker XFL stats
Walker began in 5 XFL video games, and went 5-0 whereas tearing defenses aside. He averaged 267.6 passing yards and three passing touchdowns per recreation. He was additionally robust as a runner, with 24 carries for 99 yards and a landing on the bottom. He led the league in passing yards (1,338) and touchdowns (15), and had the second-highest QB ranking (104.4).
Walker seems to be again on his XFL days fondly. In a first-person piece written on The Players’ Tribune, Walker was glad to get the chance to play skilled soccer.
“The smartest thing concerning the new XFL was that it gave the blokes who’re on the fringes of professional soccer the chance to go on the market and play and present what they’ll do,” Walker writes. “There are so many nice, proficient gamers on NFL rosters that the league simply isn’t large enough for everyone to play. And that’s a disgrace. The XFL was essential to so many guys. It’s laborious to single out names as a result of I don’t wish to go away anyone out — as a result of there are only a lot. If the season had gone on, most of them would undoubtedly be getting their probabilities to play within the NFL. I consider that. I imply, a few of them already are. Like me.”
P.J. Walker on the Panthers
After dominating the XFL, P.J. Walker had some choices for his subsequent transfer. He obtained curiosity from the Steelers even earlier than he performed a recreation within the XFL, and afterwards he reportedly obtained curiosity from the Seahawks, Cardinals and Broncos amongst others.
Walker ultimately selected the Panthers as his greatest alternative, regardless of the workforce already signing Bridgewater.
“It was extra so the chance with Carolina and it was the very best match for me,” Walker stated in April. “And for me, I needed to go the place I felt snug, and I felt snug with coach Rhule. And particularly with the chance, I simply needed to benefit from that as properly.
“Just to proceed to develop and get higher as a quarterback and develop, simply to study as a lot as I can from Teddy and Will and simply proceed to develop as a lot as a participant and assist these guys as a lot as I can as properly.”