Notebook: Webb's chance gets hamstrung

Rookie Joe Webb was anticipating a big role in Sunday's game. With injuries all over, he returned a kickoff, got at least one snap at wide receiver and might have played some Wildcat and quarterback if not for a hamstring injury. Plus, another rookie got his first NFL start, Antoine Winfield nearly got a TD and battle of facial hair goes wrong.

Joe Webb waited 11 games to have a chance at his first NFL action and could hardly believe his big opportunity was over with one pull of his hamstring.

Webb, the Vikings rookie that coaches haven't yet figured out how to best use, was prepared for a unique role against the Buffalo Bills Sunday. He was drafted as a sixth-round receiver, moved to quarterback at the end of rookie minicamp, but began working as a receiver last week in practice when Percy Harvin was suffering from migraines and Greg Lewis was recovering from a concussion.

Harvin and Lewis weren't active Sunday, and neither was Hank Baskett, opening the door for Webb to be active – as a receiver.

"I was expecting a lot (of action). They told me during the week we have a couple of banged-up guys and they were going to need me to line up there," Webb said. "I just had my chance to do a couple things, but my ham just gave out on me."

In fact, Webb got the first "touch" of the game and immediately showed his athleticism, returning the opening kickoff 30 yards and becoming the first "quarterback" in team history to return a kick. It was also his first kickoff return in his collegiate or pro career.

"I was trying to pop it out. I (saw) a little crease and I was just trying to hit it as hard as I can," he said. "They told me to run downhill and run to what you see. That was my first time ever running a kickoff return, so now that I got a chance to see it and read it out I'm sure the next one will be a lot different."

Shortly afterward, Webb pulled his hamstring while playing on the punt return team and his day was done. In a game of firsts for Webb, the first hamstring pull was the last thing he wanted.

But Webb's main contribution was expected to come as a wide receiver Sunday. He lined up there at least once and the Vikings faked an end-around to him, similar to how they've used Harvin occasionally this year.

"I don't know if I'm letting any secrets out of the bag, but we had a package for him. It just obviously didn't unfold. We had some things in store," Frazier said. "The good thing for our football team, although we had some things in store, we had enough with the people that were playing to overcome the fact that we lost Joe."

Webb played coy with what his role was going to be as well.

Asked if there were some Wildcat packages for him, he said, "Could have been. Everything was changed up when I hurt it. … We'll see in the near future."

Adding further to his postgame disappointment was the fact that he might have even gotten some snaps at quarterback late in the game with the Vikings possessing a 38-7 lead. He said that was a "big disappointment, but everything happens for a reason."

"Yeah, man. I was pretty mad, but my teammates rallied around and told me it would be OK," he said.


While Webb, a sixth-round pick, didn't get much playing time, rookie Chris DeGeare, a fifth-round pick, made the first start of his career, filling in for the injured Steve Hutchinson.

"I did a pretty good job with my assignments and everything. I had a blast out there," DeGeare said.

The Vikings had 210 yards rushing on 40 carries, both season highs, against the NFL's worst run defense. But DeGeare said he was still nervous going into his first NFL start.

"Definitely. I'm always nervous before a game – college, high school. But after that first snap most of the jitters are gone when you know what you're facing," he said. "Other than that, it's just playing with confidence."


Brett Favre isn't the only player bringing up his age. Antoine Winfield was asked if there was any cutback he could have made on his interception return Sunday that would have allowed him to get into the end zone instead of coming up five yards short.

"Absolutely not. I'm working with these 33s," he said, pointing to his legs. "It's not like I'm 23 years old no more."


Linebackers Ben Leber and Heath Farwell are involved in a contest of facial hair. It's not who can produce the most, rather who can produce the strangest look. Farwell's mustache isn't exactly GQ material, but Leber's look was downright disconcerting.

"I got a little jealous of Heath's gorgeous ‘stache and I thought, ‘Hey, I can do something with my beard, so I really left it up to him to decide what I was going to do and this is what he came up with," Leber said.

Picture starting with a full beard and then cutting off all the hair below the top lip.

"No bet. Just guys have fun in the locker room. I've got to give credit to Heath. This was his design and he cut it up. It's not going to stay for very long, but it's nice to have," Leber said.

"I've heard Sam Jackson in Pulp Fiction or Gangs of New York or an Irish-Asian gang member."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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