Webb has ‘no problem' with shifting role

Joe Webb caught his first NFL pass against Green Bay and was used more as a wide receiver. He talked about how his reps are split in practice, his long-term focus and his outlook on his current situation.

Joe Webb was drafted in 2010 to compete for a wide receiver position with the Vikings, despite being a quarterback at Alabama-Birmingham. That experiment lasted most of the first rookie minicamp. While taking reps at wide receiver, head coach Brad Childress saw how well Webb could throw the ball and immediately changed his thinking on Webb.

When roster cuts were made, Webb became the Vikings' No. 3 quarterback. When injuries hit Brett Favre and Tarvaris Jackson, Webb moved up to the No. 1 QB spot and expectations were that he would have an expanded role, especially seeing as he was the only quarterback on the roster following the season.

Flash forward a year and it would appear Webb is making the switch again. Over the last few weeks, Webb has been incorporated more into the passing game as a receiver and, against Green Bay Monday, he had his first career reception and was on the field for about a dozen plays lined up as a wide receiver.

While he is still listed as the No. 3 quarterback behind Christian Ponder and Donovan McNabb – both of whom were added during the offseason – Webb said he is embracing his expanding role as a wide receiver. He said being a quarterback is his first love, but he is more than willing to make the switch back to the original Plan A when he was drafted and get more time at wide receiver.

"I'm doing the best I can to do whatever is needed to help the team," Webb said. "Our goal is to boost up the offense, and if that means me playing quarterback, I'll do that. If it means me playing wide receiver, I'll do that."

Asked if he was in agreement with the decision to move him to wide receiver, Webb said that while he endorsed the move, his approval was never a requirement.

"I have no choice but to be all in," Webb said. "I'm all for it. Whatever they need me to do, I'm going to try my best to do the best I can at that position."

For other players in his position, they have balked at the notion of moving away from being a quarterback. But Webb said he did the same in college, so this is nothing new to him.

"I'm used to going back and forth from quarterback to wide receiver," Webb said. "I did that a lot at UAB, so it isn't anything unusual or anything I haven't done before. I'm used to it, so it's nothing new to me."

While Webb got his most significant action at wide receiver on Monday, he said there have been a handful of plays run throughout the season in practice that incorporated him among the receivers. Recurring injuries to Percy Harvin and the release of Bernard Berrian have increased that workload and, while Green Bay marked his debut at wide receiver, it is something the team has been working on the past three months.

"Going into each week, we have different plays and different packages that we work on for each game," Webb said. "We've had plays in most of the season that include having me (at wide receiver), so it's just a matter of when or if they call those plays. We had more of them against Green Bay and I got my chance to get out there."

Webb said the distribution of time he spends taking practice reps at quarterback and reps at wide receiver has been essentially even, he said he is kept hopping – taking snaps at quarterback and then moving over to wideout to be on the receiving end. While the team's focus on using him at the moment is at wide receiver, he is keeping his mind focused on his quarterback duties because he believes that remains his long-term position.

"It's about the same," Webb said of the time-split between quarterback and wide receiver. "I get more at quarterback each week, so I'm trying to stay more focused at quarterback right now because that is still technically where they have me as. I'm just going to try to go from there."

Webb is willing to roll with whatever the team needs from him. He said you won't hear him complaining about his dual role because his goal is to get on the field however he can – whether it be throwing the football or catching it – and he doesn't mind splitting time between the two.

"It's only a problem if you let it be a problem," Webb said. "All I want to do is help the team win and give the offense an added dimension. I think most of the times when you have problems is when the team moves a guy around who doesn't want to move around. I have no problem with it because I want to do whatever I can to help the team get better. If that means playing quarterback, that's fine. If that means playing wide receiver, that's fine too."


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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