Joe Webb (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)
Rookie Joe Webb is eager to make his first NFL start at quarterback, which is expected on Monday. He sounded confident in his abilities to read the defense and run when needed.
After throwing five NFL passes last week and spending the first 11 weeks of the season on the inactive list, Joe Webb is likely to go from sixth-round draft pick to first-time NFL starter on Monday Night Football.
That’s the state of the Vikings this week while Brett Favre continues to downplay his chances of playing and with Tarvaris Jackson being placed on injured reserve.
“If that is the case that I’ll start, I’m just preparing every way that I can so I could just be able to lead my team to victory,” Webb said.
“My comfort level is very high right now. I went through training camp and OTAs (organized team activities), preseason, learning the playbook, and you’re toward the end of the season, so I learned a lot from Brett, T-Jack, Coach (Darrell) Bevell. Coach (Kevin) Rogers has been doing a great job with me.”
The Vikings also signed eight-year veteran Patrick Ramsey to try to make do at the position. While playing either Webb or Ramsey isn’t an ideal situation, the desperation of the situation is evident with Favre unlikely to play once again after sitting out his first game following 297 consecutive starts because of a sprained throwing shoulder.
"I don't see any change today. Ran some tests. Guess it would be an ultrasound on Tuesday. That came back negative. That was for a blood clot I guess. So that was good news,” Favre said. “But there is still some numbness and discomfort, so again, as I said after the game there's no way I would even consider it with those symptoms still. I think it would be foolish to even think that way."
Frazier was holding off judgment on Favre’s availability until a few more days pass, but even Frazier gave every indication that Webb would start Monday night.
“Just in talking with Joe, he’s really excited about the opportunity. He can’t wait to line up and play and have a chance to start if that happens. He’s not running away from it and we have confidence that he can get it done and we’ve got other players around him,” Frazier said. “That’s one of the things I told Joe and told our team: We’ve got a lot of good players on this team so it’s not like it’s going to be all Joe Webb. Our offense, our defense, our special teams, everybody involved has to help and has to support Joe. So he’s excited about it and we’re excited about the fact that he may end up starting.”
Webb said the playbook shouldn’t be curtailed for him at this point in his rookie season.
“No, I feel like it’s my job to study the playbook and to learn everything. If there are just one or two plays that I don’t like, then of course I would tell them I’m not very comfortable, but it’s my job to study the playbook and to be ready for whatever they call,” Webb said.
And if all else fails, Webb can always rely on the same athleticism that helped make him a draft choice and has him with 16 yards rushing, double the amount of passing yards he has after one week of limited opportunity at quarterback.
“I’m going to run when I have to run, but my first option is to just look downfield. I have great receivers in Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Bernard Berrian, (Visanthe) Shiancoe,” Webb said. “… My job is just to look for them first and if the pocket collapses and I’m able to escape, then I’ll do it.”
The Bears likely will look to collapse that pocket by bringing additional pass rushers if needed. It’s an age-old strategy with rookie quarterbacks and Webb is expecting that.
“In my case, me being the rookie quarterback and not having a lot of experience, they’re going to try to throw a lot of blitzes in and try to mix some things up with me. My thing is to just be prepared and be ready for whatever they give me,” he said.
PETERSON DOESN'T PRACTICE
Adrian Peterson (ankle) headlined a list of five players that didn’t practice for the Vikings on Thursday. Peterson wasn’t at practice. Quarterback Brett Favre (chest/ankle/shoulder), guard Steve Hutchinson (thumb), safety Tyrell Johnson (knee) and safety Jamarca Sanford (concussion) joined Peterson among those who didn’t practice.
Defensive end Ray Edwards (ankle) was limited, with Asher Allen (ankle) and Webb (hamstring) full participants.
Frazier said the team is hoping to conduct a walkthrough practice at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday or Sunday to gauge field conditions. The Vikings are expected to play at the home of the Gophers on Monday night after the roof of the Metrodome collapsed with 17 inches of snow on it last weekend.
In addition to turf toe, Jackson suffered some ligament damage in his foot Monday night, according to Frazier. "It was pretty clear just in talking with the doctors, maybe four weeks from now, of course our season would be done,” Frazier said of the decision to put Jackson on injured reserve. “It wasn't a hard decision, the fact that we needed another person to help us at that position, it was the right thing to do. Tarvaris, he's a tough guy, hard-nosed, has done everything we've asked him to do. But he wasn't going to be able to come back and help us this season."
After two weeks of inactivity due to complications with his migraine headaches, Harvin was back practicing with the team for the first time since Dec. 1. He is expected to speak with reporters on Friday.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.