Vikings' Webb gets chance to develop as a receiver

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 3, 2013 - 6:18 AM

The Vikings still are hunting for ways to use his unique skills.

Joe Webb graduated with a degree in criminal justice and had plans to become an investigator if his football career stalled.

That’s ironic, because he remains a mystery as a football player.

Webb was drafted as a wide receiver, moved to quarterback and now is attempting to carve out a career as a wide receiver. He also has returned kickoffs and been the focal point of a gimmicky “Blazer” package.

His NFL career began with a YouTube clip of him leaping over seven blocking pads stacked chest-high. The Vikings still are trying to figure out how to maximize that unique physical ability.

The coaching staff saw enough potential in Webb’s development at receiver throughout training camp and preseason to give him a spot on the 53-man roster. The team hopes it has found the answer to the Joe Webb riddle.

“I still have a long ways to go,” said Webb, whose player profile on the league website still listed him as a quarterback Monday afternoon.

It’s perhaps fitting that Webb’s first game as a full-time receiver will take place in Detroit on Sunday, because Ford Field was the site of his best game as a quarterback. In 2011, Webb replaced Christian Ponder in the second half and turned the game into a personal showcase. His 109 rushing yards set a team record by a quarterback and he also completed 12 of 23 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown in the loss.

But it became abundantly clear — even to Webb’s loyal supporters — in subsequent games that he did not have a future at quarterback, at least not with the Vikings. His emergency start in place of an injured Ponder in the Green Bay playoff game last season proved disastrous.

“That’s something I left in my past,” Webb said of the playoff game. “I learned from that game and I’m moving on. At that point, when they asked me to move [positions], I was all in.”

Webb admits he’s still relatively raw as a receiver, but he sees improvement in his route running and pass catching. He finished the preseason with 10 catches for 65 yards and one touchdown. However, he dropped a dump-off pass in the final preseason game when it appeared he tried to turn upfield before securing the ball.

Webb got the nod over Stephen Burton in the competition for the fifth and final wide receiver job. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Webb’s versatility on special teams weighed heavily in the decision. Webb has worked as a gunner on the punt team and can return kicks if needed.

The Vikings also admire Webb’s positive attitude and the way he’s embraced this change and the challenges of learning a new position in his fourth season.

“We saw the growth as a receiver from the time we made the decision back in the spring, but also the additions he could give us on special teams,” Frazier said. “That was probably the thing that really solidified in our minds that we have another guy who could be a potential core player for us on special teams and make a difference there, along with being a quality receiver.”

Webb insists he wasn’t nervous waiting for word on whether he would survive roster cuts. He found other activities to keep his mind preoccupied. He hung with his kids and played video games and took in the State Fair.

“Ate a couple of corn dogs,” he said.

That seems like a perfect diversion.

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Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister 3 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle - LP: F. Rodney 2 FINAL
Texas - WP: P. Figueroa 3
Boston 4 Bottom 11th Inning
Chicago WSox 3
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 6 FINAL
Houston - LP: J. Williams 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland 4 Bottom 7th Inning
LA Angels 1
Colorado 1 Bottom 7th Inning
San Diego 4
Los Angeles 1 Bottom 7th Inning
San Francisco 1
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 105 FINAL
Memphis 106
Detroit 111 FINAL
Oklahoma City 112
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 100 FINAL
Miami 87
Utah 136 FINAL
Minnesota 130
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 FINAL
New York 95
Golden State 83 3rd Qtr 1:45
Denver 75
LA Clippers 77 3rd Qtr 3:35
Portland 76
Phoenix 79 4th Qtr 10:11
Sacramento 78
Montreal 5 FINAL(OT)
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 2 3rd Prd 15:05
Anaheim 4
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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