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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Joe Webb, A Bird Of A Different Feather

Photo by: Aj Mansour (KFAN)

By: Aj Mansour |

It’s the sad reality of today’s NFL that the players who draw off the field controversy, the players who hold out for more money and the players who fight with their teammates on the sidelines capture most of the headlines. All the while, the players who are selfless, who hard to be good teammates and who behave themselves on the weekends are often forgotten and overlooked.

When Joe Webb was called into Leslie Frazier’s office during this past offseason he probably feared the worst. His run as a backup quarterback with the Minnesota Vikings had surely been filled with its fair share of ups and downs, but the most recent taste left over in his mouth from a 24-10 drubbing at Lambeau Field was not exactly a favorable one. The acquisition of Matt Cassel through off-season free agency, didn’t exactly leave Joe confident of his employment status with the Minnesota Vikings in 2013 either. So when Joe Webb sat down with coach for the off season meeting, it surprised Coach Frazier to see Joe walk in with an ear-to-ear grin plastered across his face.

As the conversation began, Joe quickly learned that the Vikings’ plans were not to part ways with him but to move him from his preferred position of quarterback to that of a wide receiver. A position change that was previously unheard of in the NFL. Whether he was relieved to have been retained by the Vikings or excited for the new challenge, Webb’s attitude remained up beat while his focus honed in on anything that he could do to make the Vikings a better football team.

“He’s rare,” Leslie Frazier said remembering back to the conversation with Joe. “When I sat him down in my office and I was talking to him about the position chance, I wasn’t sure how he’d respond. But his attitude and his demeanor in that moment, I just take my hat off to him.”

Webb had dabbled with wide receiver in high school and college and even found himself lining up wide (mainly as a decoy) a few times for the Vikings last season, but the switch to a full time wide receiver was going to be tough and could even have been viewed as a demotion for the former QB.

“That’s a big move,” Frazier said. “Going from a quarterback, who’s actually had some success in some games for us, to accept this role and tell me, ‘Coach, whatever I can to to help our football team, that’s what I want to do. If you think it’s the best thing for our team, I’m willing to do it.'”

This reaction came as no surprise to Frazier.

“He’s a rare breed,” Frazier continued. “In this business where there’s a lot of egos, a lot of guys thinking about me, a lot of guys thinking about their next contract, I don’t sense that in Joe. He just loves the game and loves to play.’

And Frazier’s not the only one to notice. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said this weekend that he has never once heard Joe complain about being forced into making the switch.

“Not one time,” Musgrave said. “Not one time did I get the indication that Joe was thinking about himself before the team. Not one time.”

If getting his attitude in the right place was the first step for Joe Webb to successfully make the switch, getting on the practice field was the second.

From the little we saw of Joe at wide out during the team’s offseason activities, to what we’ve seen early at Training Camp, Webb has made gigantic improvements in becoming a more polished wide receiver. We’ve always known that the athletic ability and hand eye coordination were part of his game, but the intangibles of being a wide receiver had to be learned. And he’s doing just that.

“Joe is working at his trade which is now a wide receiver,” Musgrave said of Webb’s progress. “[Including] getting him in and out of breaks, the depth routes, being dynamic, being explosive, getting off the line of scrimmage when the corners are up in his kitchen. He’s working at it.”

“His knowledge of our offense [from the quarterback’s perspective] definitely helps him,” Frazier added. “I’ve seen him helping the other receivers with our offense already…the one thing he has to get better at is running routes and getting in and out of breaks.”

With two days of practices under his belt, Joe is already making a good impression. While it helps to make the flashy plays (of which Joe made two on Friday with deep bombs from both Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel), the positivity stemming from Joe’s early performance can be seen in the small things that he is improving at. The footwork, the timing and the spacing that he is now getting are all working towards the level of players who have been wide receivers their entire career.

Will Joe Webb ever be Calvin Johnson? Probably not. In fact, the odds that Joe has a big impact on game days is probably pretty slim. Still, to see a guy who is working hard and selflessly giving for the good of the team all while going about his business like just another one of the guys is refreshing. It’s why guys like Joe Webb stand out as bird of a different feather in a league that is so often known for it’s egos that have run amuck.

Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Vikings updates and breaking Vikings news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjKFAN

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