Rookie Joe Webb says the thoughts of moving him to a wide receiver helped motivate him to improve as a quarterback.
He has only one start under his belt, but it was a successful one after he outplayed Michael Vick and led the Vikings to a 24-14 upset win over the Philadelphia Eagles in a nationally televised game.
“Coming into the draft, people were saying I would be a receiver and things like that,” Webb said. “It was just motivation for when I get my time to play at quarterback, take advantage of the opportunity.”
In fact, the Vikings initially drafted Webb as a receiver, but when they asked him to throw some passes in the final day of the Vikings’ rookie camp, former head coach Brad Childress switched him to quarterback for good … well, almost.
Webb’s first game active was against the Buffalo Bills and his first act as an NFL player was a 30-yard kick return. The Vikings planned to use him as a special weapon on offense – he was in for one play as a wide receiver – but he strained his hamstring while working on the punt-return unit.
After two games with extensive experience at quarterback and the likelihood that he will start the Vikings’ season finale there, those days of Webb out wide or back returning kicks seem so long ago despite taking place less than a month ago.
“You never know how things are playing out. Last year I was trying to be a receiver. … I’m more comfortable at (quarterback) because I’ve been playing it multiple years,” Webb said. “It’s just a great experience for me. It was a great game by the Vikings. Even though some people said I had a great performance, I still feel like there’s room for me to improve.”
Webb completed 17 of 26 passes for 195 yards, no interceptions or touchdowns, and rushed for six times for 31 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown, Tuesday night.
Interim head coach Leslie Frazier said Brett Favre will be the starter on Sunday in Detroit if he passes all of his post-concussion tests, but so far Favre hasn’t passed the first step, a neurological test, so it’s looking more likely that Webb will get his second straight start.
“Just want him to continue to get a great grasp of game situations,” Frazier said. “… Sometimes you’re just getting plays and you’re just thinking, ‘I’m running plays.’ Well, certain plays are called specifically for certain situations and this is why it has to be executed exactly the way it’s worked on in practice, and when you can get a feel for that then you can see the game a little bit differently than the way you would in practice. So just being able to have a great grasp of situations in games.”
Webb said things slowed down for him a bit on Tuesday night compared to his first extensive action on Dec. 20 against the Chicago Bears in relief of the concussed Favre.
“This game I was able to see the field a little more, see the coverage a lot better. Last week versus Chicago, things were moving pretty fast because it was my first time really getting in and playing in an NFL game,” Webb said. “Things started slowing down a little bit in that Chicago game. The Eagles game I was able to get in a rhythm pretty early, able to slow the game down a lot better.”
He is also getting more comfortable with the cast of starting wide receivers. During the preseason, Webb’s plays were limited, and when he was in the game he was working with a cast of receivers who are mostly no longer with the team. Now the coaches are getting a better feel for what Webb can do with quality NFL receivers and how he operates best in game conditions.
“I think they figured out the things I could do. After a couple games I played, the coaches, they saw what type of player I really am instead of comparing the preseason,” Webb said. “They saw me then, but not really into a game-like situation as in the past couple of games. They’re working things in there with me that can benefit us on the offense by being more explosive. They’re doing a great job with it.”
WILF MEETING NEXT WEEK
Frazier is trying to keep the focus on the Detroit Lions during a short week of preparation, but the Vikings ownership group has to make a determination on Frazier’s status for the future soon. After the Vikings’ season is done, other teams can come calling for Frazier, who is expecting to meet with team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf next week.
"This is where I want to be. I want to be with the Minnesota Vikings,” Frazier said. “But the most important thing for me and our team right now is to find a way to go to Detroit and get a road win against a much improved football team, and that's where my focus and energy has to be along with our players, our staff. We've got a big task ahead of us. Those guys, they want to get a four-game winning streak, we want to get a two-game winning streak going."
FAVRE STILL BEING EVALUATED
Favre still hasn’t passed his concussion test and the Vikings are trying to determine the best course of action for him this week.
“We’re probably going to make a determination today whether or not he takes it again and probably can’t – if it’s not done successfully by Saturday – then we’ll have to make a determination. That will probably be the cut-off for sure,” interim head coach Leslie Frazier said.
The Vikings want Favre to take the test again, but there has to be some lag between testing. The issue is the Vikings have a short week of practice and there are other steps after the neurological portion of the test that he must pass before he can resume practicing.
“Concussions are pretty cut and dried. There’s a protocol that’s required, and if you succeed in that area, then you’re able to play,” Frazier said. “If you don’t, you’re not able to play. I don’t really try to gauge it.”
The Vikings resumed a relatively normal practice day on Thursday after having Wednesday off, but they didn’t work out in helmets as they tried to get the players refreshed and ready for Sunday after playing Tuesday night.
CB Asher Allen (abdomen), Favre (concussion/neck/shoulder), LB Erin Henderson (concussion), WR Sidney Rice (concussion), FB Naufahu Tahi (ankle) and S Madieu Williams (concussion) didn’t practice.
S Tyrell Johnson (knee) was limited and Adrian Peterson, who would have been limited yesterday, was upgraded to a full practice on Thursday with his bruised knee.
For the Lions, CB Chris Houston (shoulder), WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) and LB Landon Johnson (concussion) didn't practice. RB Jahvid Best (toe), DE Lawrence Jackson (groin) and QB Drew Stanton were limited.
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.