Joe Webb to debut as jack-of-all-trades in Vikings' preseason opener
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
MANKATO, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings receiver Joe Webb can't remember the last time he tackled somebody in a game.
The former quarterback will have to remember how to soon when he's featured on various special teams units during Friday's preseason opener against the Houston Texans, including a gunner on coverage teams.
"Last time I tackled somebody in a game, I'd say, well, I'm not even sure," Webb said after Wednesday's practice. "Lot of people say I'm a big strong, physical guy. I tackled my brothers plenty of times when I was younger. I figure it won't be that hard."
Last time Webb played on the defensive side of the ball was at safety in his early years at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, where he also played receiver and quarterback.
"I've been playing football a very long time," Webb said. "I know how to take a guy down."
The addition of receivers Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson has somewhat crowded quarterback Christian Ponder's view downfield, but somewhere out there Webb is vying for the fifth receiver spot along with seven other players this preseason.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman told 1500ESPN he is confident the team will find a spot for Webb simply because of his versatility.
"[Webb] is one of those guys that can do a lot of different things most people can't in the league," Spielman said. "But the other thing we're going to take a hard look at is during these special teams drills, now we're not live yet, but just seeing him run down as an athlete on kickoff coverage, working him back some as a returner, putting him out as a gunner on the punt team, see if he can break down in space and make some tackles."
Webb, who has one career reception in the NFL, said playing on special teams is also new to him, but making position switches isn't.
It was only eight months ago that Webb started at quarterback in the Vikings playoff loss at Green Bay, the third start of his career after not attempting a pass during the 2013 regular season.
Spielman said the decision to move Webb to receiver wasn't based on his playoff performance alone, but also to bring in experience behind third-year quarterback Christian Ponder.
"After we got through the end of last season, where Christian is heading, we honestly think he's going to be a great quarterback for us, to get a veteran presence behind Christian," Spielman said. "In case we get into a situation like last year."
Webb will begin to make his case for a spot on the 53-man roster on Friday, when he might make his first tackle in recent memory.
"I wouldn't put it past Joe Webb to do anything he puts his mind at," Spielman said.