Joe Webb has been thinking about his job so much he is dreaming about it. Maybe he really is working 24/7.
The Vikings rookie quarterback has a lot to learn and a complicated West Coast offense provides quite the challenge for a small-school quarterback who was originally projected to play receiver at the NFL level.
"At the quarterback position it takes a lot. You have to do a lot of studying to learn the formations, the plays, the defense," Webb said. "It takes time. Right now my head's swimming out there, so I'm just trying to be patient."
While Sage Rosenfels has had practices where he threw four and three interceptions on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, Webb has been a little more careful with the ball. Maybe too careful. Many of his deep passes have often been thrown too deep and out of reach for anyone to make a play on them, but Vikings coach Brad Childress sees in Webb exactly what he is – a rookie working with the third-string offense.
After the team's Saturday night event, which was the closest players have come in camp to seeing game-like action, Childress said Webb looked "rough."
"Like most first-year quarterbacks that are taking third-string turns with third-string guys," Childress said. "He's got an aptitude. You can see the arm strength. Now you see some balls scuffed, but a lot of times guys are thinking so much that they can't let their God-given athletic ability come out. You just want to keep accelerating that curve, where you do it over and over and over and over, so it kind of becomes rote."
That's what Webb is looking for as well, but he's well aware that this isn't the University of Alabama-Birmingham, where he became the first player in NCAA history to throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in back-to-back seasons.
"From college, it's a whole different thing than the NFL," Webb said. "(I) just keep watching all those guys, all the veterans and how they are so serious about their assignment. If one guy misses their assignment, everybody is jumping on him. You've got to be consistent and know what you're doing."
Consistency for Webb will take time. First, he is working with mostly young receivers who are also learning the offense and their routes. Then it's on the quarterback to make the right read quickly.
Without the pressure of a pass rush in spring practices, Webb looked very solid. Slowly but surely, he will be immersed into more game-like situations. A live practice scheduled for Tuesday morning will be another milepost in his progression.
"Typically you want to see him with pads on and you want to see him pass under pressure," Childress said. "Seven-on-seven ain't the real world, and when all those bodies are flying around (it's different). But he's got good presence and he can see. He'll learn the offense as he goes."
Webb said the mental part is the most challenging. He is trying to go through his progressions and make the right read. Rookie camp and minicamp helped him become comfortable with the playbook, but training camp is training him to apply that book knowledge quickly before 300-pounders get hold of him.
He's expressing a desire to consume anything that will help him – a tip from the veterans, another session with the playbook, even dreaming about plays.
"Anybody that is going to give me one little tip, I soak it all in. Anybody that's willing to teach me and show me the way to do it, then I'm for it," Webb said.
"There is still some learning going on. I'm pretty comfortable right now. Every day, slowly but surely, it's coming."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Webb gem or work in progress?
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