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Steve Wilks: Hard to pull P.J. Walker out of Panthers' starting QB job after upset win over Buccaneers

A week after a feeble offensive performance, Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker helped guide Carolina to a stunning 21-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

With Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold close to returning from ankle injuries, interim coach Steve Wilks was asked if Walker could hold onto the gig.

"P.J. had an outstanding performance," Wilks said after the win, via the team's official website. "When you look at what he did today -- still have to evaluate the tape -- it's going to be hard to try to pull him out."

The former XFL quarterback guided an offense that leaned on the ground game despite trading away Christian McCaffrey last week. Walker completed 16 of 22 passes for 177 yards and two TDs. With D'Onta Foreman (118 yards) and Chuba Hubbard (63 yards, TD) churning out yards and Walker avoiding big mistakes, the Panthers earned a season-high 343 yards of offense.

After an embarrassingly conservative performance in Walker's start last week against the Rams, the Panthers were more willing to take chances. On the first play from scrimmage, Walker took a shot to Terrace Marshall Jr., but the young wideout dropped the ball. Walker finished the half by completing his next 11 passes.

Three of the Panthers' four largest margins of victory since 2020 have come in Walker starts.

The 27-year-old isn't worried about whether he'll hang onto the starting gig once Mayfield and Darnold are healthy. Instead, he's just concerned with playing his best and letting the chips fall where they may.

"No, I just went out there and played my game, executed what we called, moved the ball down the field efficiently," Walker said. "That's not my call. My call is to get ready to work Monday. … Whether it's to start, back up, whatever it is, I'll be ready."

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