Notebook: Joe Webb realizes he could play important role in offense
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Joe Webb might have lost the No. 2 quarterback job to rookie Christian Ponder, but that doesn't mean he won't see playing time Sunday as the Minnesota Vikings open the regular season against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium.
The NFL has changed its rules this season, so instead of having teams designate a third quarterback they can now dress 46 players. Previously, the rule stated that if the third quarterback entered the game during the first three quarters the first two QBs were no longer eligible to play.
What this means is that Webb could come into the game in a Wildcat package or as a wide receiver at any point and still be able to take over at quarterback if Donovan McNabb and Ponder were injured.
"I was happy when (the NFL) made that rule," Webb said. "That really benefited me and this team. I think we're going to take it and run with it."
Webb lined up at wide receiver at various times in training camp, but coach Leslie Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave made it clear they considered Webb to be a quarterback.
An argument could be made that Webb looked more comfortable than Ponder during the preseason. Webb completed 17 of 29 passes for 213 yards with no touchdowns, an interception and two sacks. Ponder was 27 of 49 for 290 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and five sacks.
Webb led the Vikings in rushing with 102 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. Ponder also proved to be mobile, running for 83 yards on 13 carries.
"I was just doing what I can control," Webb said when asked about not winning the No. 2 spot. "Just going out there and play my game. The decision that was made, it was made by the coaches. I can't control that. I just continue to work on my craft and get better."
Said Frazier: "We talked to (Webb) about what his role is and the fact he's a quarterback for our team and a very talented player. We've made it clear how we see his role and how we see Christian's role."
Webb said he would be comfortable playing in a Wildcat formation and has enjoyed seeing the various things Musgrave has been planning.
"I just view it as the coaches just want to utilize my talent to help the team, to help the offense be a lot more explosive," Webb said. "Any way to get me on the field, I'm satisfied with that. ... At the end of the day, if you're on the field, just make a play."
Guion, Loadholt miss time
Vikings defensive tackle Letroy Guion, who is expected to start Sunday in place of the suspended Kevin Williams, and right tackle Phil Loadholt both missed practice Thursday because of what Frazier called family emergencies.
Loadholt was listed on the injury report as not taking part in any of practice and Guion was listed as limited.
"We're waiting to find out a little bit more about Phil's (situation) and things got settled for Letroy," Frazier said.
Loadholt is expected to return for Friday's practice.
Meanwhile, cornerback Asher Allen (foot) was limited for a second consecutive day in practice.
Quarterback Donovan McNabb (right wrist), cornerback Chris Cook (hamstring) and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) remained on the injury report but again did not miss any time.
Frazier said McNabb suffered a bruised wrist on his throwing hand in the Vikings' preseason game against Dallas on Aug. 27. "He's fine," Frazier said. "We have to list him (on the report) because he did ding it a little bit."
McNabb was held out of the Vikings' preseason finale against Houston on Sept. 1, but so were almost all regulars. Frazier said the veteran could have played in that game if it were a regular-season contest.
Williams must sit out the first two games of the season as punishment for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy and he can't be around Winter Park.
But that doesn't mean the team can't stay in contact with him. Because Williams is dealing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, the Vikings doctors and athletic trainers can talk to him about how he's doing medically.
"From everything I've been told he's moving right along, he's progressing well and once the suspension is lifted he'll be ready to go," Frazier said.
Williams, whom the Vikings last spoke to on Saturday, will remain in the Twin Cities during his suspension, which came after the NFL prevailed in the long-running StarCaps case.
Greenway deal creates room
Chad Greenway and the Vikings both stand to benefit from the five-year contract extension the linebacker signed this week.
While Greenway gets a deal that is worth around $41 million, with $20 million guaranteed, the Vikings will save about $2.9 million in salary-cap space for this season and now are reportedly $4.5 million under the cap.
Before signing his new contract, Greenway had been set to play this season under the franchise tag. That meant his cap hit would have been $10.091 million.
Greenway's base salaries are $5.5 million in 2011; $5.9 million in 2012; $6.9 million in 2013; $6.4 million in 2014; and $7 million in 2015.
He also has workout bonuses of $100,000 for 2012 through 2015, according to Mac's football blog. Greenway also received an $8.5 million signing bonus.
The maximum value of the contract over five years is $40.6 million. Mac's reports that the $8.12 average per year is 13th among linebackers but third among outside linebackers in 4-3 defenses in the NFL.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rushed for an NFL single-game record 296 yards against the Chargers during his rookie season in 2007.
As he gets set to face San Diego for the first time since that game, Peterson said he thinks the NFL definitely will have a player rush for 300 yards in a game.
So will it be Peterson? "Yes, it will," he said. "God willing, I will be," the first to do it.
Peterson expects those who remain on the Chargers roster from Nov. 4, 2007 won't have forgotten about what he did.
"I'm sure their coach, especially the defensive coordinator, is getting those guys pumped up," Peterson said. "They know. It's not a secret. I'm sure they're going to be pumped up to go. It's not all about me. There's 10 other guys out on the field that they've got to stop and account for. So if they focus on the run, which would be good, be great, we'll beat them in different ways."
Frazier reacts to Manning news
Frazier was an assistant coach on Tony Dungy's staff in Indianapolis in 2005-06 and became accustomed to seeing Peyton Manning never miss a snap for the Colts.
Amid reports that the quarterback has undergone more neck surgery and might be lost for the season, Frazier said:
"(I) just can't imagine Peyton missing anything. He takes very snap in practice and every snap in a game. It's going to be weird for a lot of people, but I wish him the best. One of the greatest competitors to ever play the game and one of the greatest talents to ever play the game and hope things work out for him."
Manning essentially ran the Colts offense on the field, meaning veteran Kerry Collins is going to have his hands full as he takes over.
"Peyton is a pretty special guy," Frazier said. "I can't imagine someone stepping in and filling his shoes seamlessly. I don't know if there will be another Peyton. He's unique, very, very unique. All you have to do is take a look at his record and look at some of the highlights. Some of the fourth-quarter wins he's had. Just incredible."
• The Vikings practiced in pads Thursday, something that under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement they can only do 11 times during the first 11 weeks of the season. Frazier said the plan is to have players in pads once a week over the opening 11 weeks.
• San Diego wide receivers Vincent Brown (hamstring) and Patrick Crayton (ankle) and linebacker Jonas Mouton (shoulder) did not practice for a second consecutive day. Teams will designate players as out, doubtful, questionable or probable Friday after practice.
Tom Pelissero contributed.