Hartman: Webb shifts from QB to full-time receiver for Vikings

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 16, 2013 - 1:00 AM

The move from quarterback to receiver was due to drafting Cordarrelle Patterson and signing Matt Cassel.

Those who thought Joe Webb had no future as a quarterback should be happy, because the former Alabama-Birmingham standout has become a full-time wide receiver for the Vikings.

Coach Leslie Frazier said the decision to shift Webb to receiver was made after the draft, when the team selected receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round and also because the Vikings had signed free agent quarterback Matt Cassel.

“We had been talking about it for a while, and we made the decision that this was the way to go after we had our draft,” Frazier said.

Webb said he was told of the decision on the first day of the teams workouts.

“When I came back … Coach brought me in the office and talked to me about the different plans they had and stuff.”

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said Webb has done a good job catching the ball, and there’s a belief that because of his speed the coaches figure they can use Webb as a member of special teams and in other ways on offense.

Webb was asked how different will it be moving from quarterback to wide receiver.

“It’s going to be very interesting,” he said. “I haven’t played it since my rookie minicamp, but I think I can adjust to it pretty good. You just have to put in a lot of work. Coach Stew [wide receivers coach George Stewart] will do a lot of that with me, so we’ll see what happens.”

Position not new

Playing receiver is nothing new for Webb, because he played his entire sophomore season in college at the position.

“I was kind of doing both quarterback and receiver, but I was doing more receiver,” he said. “I did that the whole year, and I got some plays here and there for my junior and senior year, but basically my sophomore year.”

But Webb did say that it is going to be a big change.

“You have a whole different world at quarterback, but I think that’s going to help me out there at receiver, having been at quarterback and knowing the coverage and how DBs run their plays,” he said.

“I think that’s going to be a big advantage for me. I always relate things that I see on the field to quarterbacks — to Christian [Ponder], to Matt Cassel, to [McLeod] Bethel-Thompson, I can tell those guys what I see out there. That will help them out a lot, my quarterback experience.

“Also, it will help the receivers out — for instance if they see a safety rotating down, different coverages that teams prepare and things like that. I think it’s going to be a big help.”

Webb’s speed — he ran a 40 yard-dash in the low 4.4s coming out of college — has proved to be a big advantage when he scrambled as a quarterback and should be an advantage as a receiver.

Webb said he is comfortable at his new position.

“I’m doing good,” he said. “I’m doing real good. I still have a long ways to go, but I’m getting better every day and that’s all you can do.

“I just take it one step at a time, one day at a time, one play at a time, and hopefully it can turn out as a success.”

Webb said the move to wideout was fine with him, and hopefully he can help the team in other ways.

“If I get the opportunity to get on the field and run around and make a couple plays, I’m sure everyone will be happy for that.

“I’m OK with whatever is best for the team. I’m a team player. Whatever we have to do for us to get back into the playoffs and continue to win ballgames, I’m all for it.”

Webb is a free agent after this season, but he wants to succeed as a wide receiver and remain with the Vikings.

“I love Minnesota,” he said. “They’ve welcomed me like a son to a father, and it’s a great city. I love playing for the fans, and I think it’s a great fan base here, great atmosphere, great place to play.”

And what will he remember about his last game at quarterback against the Packers in the playoff loss?

“Green Bay is a great team, a great team and a tough environment,” he said. “That’s a game that I look back on, learn from my mistakes, and keep moving.’’

Webb as a receiver

In his collegiate and professional career Webb has caught 33 total passes for 480 yards and four touchdowns.

In his sophomore season at Alabama-Birmingham, Webb caught 30 passes for 459 yards and three touchdowns. He was primarily used at wide receiver that year but also spent time at quarterback. He caught two more passes for 12 yards, including a touchdown reception, in his senior season at UAB.

For the Vikings Webb has caught only one pass, a 9-yard reception in 2011. He was targeted five times that year as a wideout.

Jottings

• Alex Foster, the Chicago basketball player who committed to Tubby Smith at Minnesota and had his scholarship withdrawn by Richard Pitino, the new Gophers coach, has now committed to Smith at Texas Tech.

• One factor going against the Wild’s chances of improving next year is the fact that it will play in a tougher division because of the NHL’s realignment. In the Northwest Divsion this year, the Wild regularly faced Edmonton, Calgary and Colorado, teams that finished 12th, 13th and 15th in the 15-team Western Conference. Next year, the Wild will be in a division that also includes playoff teams in Chicago and St. Louis.

• The Colorado Rockies placed former Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer on the 15-day disabled list as he battles an inflamed disk in his neck. The Rockies believe Cuddyer, who is batting .319 with seven home runs and 23 RBI, will come off the disabled list as soon as he is able to on May 23.

• The Gophers basketball team’s new strength and conditioniong coach is Shaun Brown, who was last at Southern California but also worked at Kentucky from 1992 to ’97 and got to know Pitino at the time. And the strength coach Brown succeeded at Minnesota, Steve Felde, was quickly hired by Miami (Fla.).

• Former Gopher Trevor Mbakwe is one of 63 players working out this week at the NBA combine. Flip Saunders, the Timberwolves’s new president of basketball operations, is attending the combine along with a number of pro scouts.

• Former Gophers defensive back Michael Carter sprained a foot on the first day of his Vikings free agent workout, so he didn’t get a chance to show what he could do.

• Gophers recruit Taylor Cammarata was named the USHL player of the year after dominating the league with the Waterloo Black Hawks. Cammarata tallied 93 points (38 goals, 55 assists) in 59 regular season games. That’s the second-most goals scored in the USHL since 2002.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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