The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

July 31, 2013

Joe Webb still a fan favorite

MANKATO — Even if he’s not the second-string quarterback anymore, Joe Webb continues to be a popular player among Vikings fans.

Now a wide receiver, the fourth-year player drew one of the loudest cheers of Wednesday afternoon’s Training Camp practice session at Minnesota State, turning back to make a tough catch from quarterback James Vandenberg.

Earlier, with a rare chance to play with No. 1 quarterback Christian Ponder, Webb tried to turn back to grab an underthrown ball, but couldn’t hang on as cornerback Chris Cook had good coverage. The crowd groaned at the missed opportunity.

After practice, Webb was one of the last players off the field, as he took time to sign autographs.

While he’s been on the field primarily with backup QBs — his old job — Webb has received high praise for his efforts at learning the new position.

“He makes plays,” Ponder said Wednesday. “The guy deserves to be on the field.

“He knows what to do with the ball in his hands. He works his butt off; he’s always been a hard worker. He’s always been a competitive guy who wants to be on the field.”

Head coach Leslie Frazier said Webb’s knowledge of the Vikings’ offense has helped in the transition.

“He has great athletic ability, that’s always been a given with Joe,” Frazier said. “But ... his work ethic is the one thing that’s going to help him get caught up to speed with some of the other receivers that have been doing that for quite awhile.”

Frazier said Webb has made progress since switching positions during OTAs.

“We’re seeking growth with Joe at the wide receiver position,” Frazier said. “We just need to keep putting him in situations and let him continue to develop, and the preseason games, along with training camp, will help with that.”

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