Webb’s head is ‘spinning a little bit’

By Chip Scoggins
Updated: August 10, 2010

MANKATO, Minn. — Joe Webb had a practice on Monday morning that he probably rather would forget.

The Vikings rookie quarterback badly underthrew a receiver for an interception, nearly had another off- target pass intercepted and botched a handoff exchange.

A sixth-round draft pick, Webb has struggled throughout training camp, and he looked particularly overwhelmed on Monday. “His head’s spinning a little bit,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said.

“The playbook is quite immense. He’s swimming a little bit.

Back in [minicamp] when the installation was a little bit shorter, he was able to show a little bit better what he could do.”

The Vikings drafted Webb as a wide receiver but moved him to quarterback after watching him throw during offseason workouts. He created a buzz at the mini-camp because of his size (6-feet-4, 220 pounds), athleticism and arm strength. But he has struggled with the speed of the game and pace in which the offense is installed.

“There’s been times out here where he’s flashed some great plays, but there’s been times where he’s flashing that he’s definitely a rookie,” Bevell said. “Whether it’s a handoff putting the ball on the ground, losing a snap, not knowing where to put his eyes — all of it is running together. We talk about the guys knowing their assignments so their athletic ability can take over. Right now he’s having to think too much.”

Rookie quarterbacks typically experience harsh growing pains in training camp. Webb’s learning curve is complicated by the fact that he played in a shotgun spread offense at Alabama-Birmingham.

“I know now that being under the center there’s a lot of details that you have to pay attention to,” he said. “The steps you take, handing the running back the ball, how many steps you have to take dropping back. This is kind of new. It’s a big adjustment.”

The prevailing assumption going into camp was that the team will move veteran Sage Rosenfels and make Webb the No. 3 quarterback once Brett Favre announces he’s returning.

That still is a likely scenario, but it also seems possible that the Vikings could try to get Webb on their practice squad and keep Rosenfels as the No. 3. Webb’s talent is so raw that he could benefit from having a year to learn on the practice squad.

Webb will get his first game experience Saturday in the preseason opener at St. Louis. Coach Brad Childress said the offense will have a “basic menu” of plays so players aren’t thinking so much.

But Bevell said the team will continue to push Webb in camp to get him acclimated. “We’ve given him a lot,” Bevell said.

“Every day we give them opportunities between practices and after practices to go back and watch the tape so he’s getting more and more reps that way. It will come.”

“It just takes time.”