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Updated: May 1st, 2013 9:34pm
Notebook: Moving or not, Joe Webb 'doing a lot more work' at receiver

Notebook: Moving or not, Joe Webb 'doing a lot more work' at receiver

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Joe Webb says coaches haven't told him what position he'll be playing when the Minnesota Vikings begin organized team activity practices in a few weeks.

Webb knows a move to receiver is a possibility, though, and he's getting himself prepared.

"They're still figuring it out," Webb told 1500ESPN.com on Wednesday. "But it looks like, if I am going to receiver, I'm doing a lot more work at it so I can work on my craft at receiver since I haven't been there since, what, 2010 when I first got drafted?"

That experiment lasted all of three days, until then-Vikings coach Brad Childress had Webb -- a rare physical specimen at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds who bounced between quarterback and receiver during his five years at UAB -- throw a few passes at the conclusion of the team's rookie minicamp.

Webb was back at quarterback when OTAs began and has gotten most of his work there over three NFL seasons. He played one snap at receiver as a rookie and 31 in 2011, when he had his only career reception for 9 yards on a long drag against Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson.

But Webb has been staying after the Vikings' voluntary strength and conditioning workouts the past couple of weeks to both throw and catch the ball with teammates, knowing the arrival of new backup quarterback Matt Cassel could mean a move if he wants to stick on the roster.

"Throw with the receivers," Webb said. "After we're done, probably catch a few balls, just to keep my hand-eye coordination going and things like that. So, whenever the coaches make a true decision on where they want me to be, then that's where I'll put all my focus at."

Fourteen months ago, at the NFL scouting combine, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier announced Webb was going to devote all his attention to playing quarterback in his third season.

He saw the field only once, in garbage time against Tennessee on Oct. 7, before starting the Vikings' playoff game at Green Bay in place of an injured Christian Ponder and struggling to 11-of-30 passing in a 24-10 loss.

Cassel got $3.7 million in the first year of his contract, so he's not going anywhere. Neither is Ponder, who remains the unquestioned starter. Webb has one year remaining on his rookie contract he signed as a sixth-round draft pick, with a modest base salary of $630,000 in 2013.

"Every year's a big year for me," said Webb, 26. "I don't think about the money or the contract, things like that. I have a passion for football. Anytime I can touch the field, man, I'm thankful, because there's a lot of guys out there injured and didn't even make it to the NFL."

Odds are Webb's best chance for touching the field this season will come somewhere other than quarterback, though it's still unclear how the Vikings intend to use him. They also have strong-armed McLeod Bethel-Thompson on the roster and have agreed to terms with James Vandenberg, an undrafted rookie quarterback from Iowa.

Typically upbeat, Webb was quick to answer when asked if he'd be comfortable moving back to receiver. But he made clear he'll keep getting all the work he can at quarterback either way.

"Yeah, I'm comfortable," Webb said. "Whatever it is to help the team. I'm a team player. So, as long as I get on the field. I'm excited to get on the field this year. Hopefully, we can make that happen. But in the meantime, whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to do it."

Big loss

In December, left tackle Matt Kalil was vague about the illness that caused him to miss two practices leading up to a critical game at Houston.

He revealed on Wednesday he was battling pneumonia -- causing him to lose 15 to 20 pounds off his 6-foot-6 frame.

"I couldn't eat anything for about three days," Kalil said. "So, that wasn't really good."

After playing most of the season at 310 pounds, Kalil found himself weighing in at 290 to 295.

Offensive line coach Jeff Davidson visited Kalil's house for a film session, the rookie returned to practice the Friday before the game and he played well under the circumstances in a 23-6 victory.

Kalil said he dropped as low as 280 pounds during the offseason before he resumed workouts. He weighs 305 pounds now and plans to bulk up to 315 this season.

Not good enough

The departure of veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield could open an opportunity for Josh Robinson in the slot, though coaches will work numerous players there during the offseason.

A third-round pick (66th overall) last year, Robinson fell out of the rotation late in his rookie season and admitted on Wednesday his work habits -- namely film study -- needs to improve for him to achieve the consistency coaches are stressing with him.

"I could have did better last year," Robinson said. "As a rookie, I really was trying to get a feel for everything. I think I got that, so I'm ready to study more and do more that I can to help this team."

Winfield, who signed a one-year contract with Seattle after his release, was known as a thorough note taker, to the point younger players wanted to sit next to him in the meeting room.

Robinson said he was "(n)ot overwhelmed. Really just trying to take as much in as possible, but trying to make sure I can still play fast, and it kind of had me thinking too much."

So, how does he fix that?

"Just putting more time in," Robinson said. "Having a plan -- that's something I didn't have last year. I didn't have a plan on what I'm going to do every week. That's something I'm working on doing now."

Bueller? Bueller?

Attendance continues to be high at the Vikings' offseason program, which is voluntary but has been a point of emphasis for Frazier and his staff.

During Wednesday's session -- the only one open to reporters until OTAs begin the last week of May -- just a handful of starters were missing.

"I think that's a credit to our staff," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "That's a credit to being a young team. Guys want to come in here and work, and that's what you need to do."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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