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Updated: June 18th, 2012 9:27pm
Zulgad's Roundup: Joe Webb's focus entirely on QB position this year

Zulgad's Roundup: Joe Webb's focus entirely on QB position this year

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by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

Joe Webb entered last season knowing the Minnesota Vikings considered him to be mainly a quarterback, but never certain if he also would end up being asked to play wide receiver.

That won't be an issue for Webb entering training camp this summer in Mankato.

The Vikings have told Webb they want him to focus all of his energies on playing quarterback and the plan is for him to enter the regular season behind starter Christian Ponder on the depth chart.

"Yeah, it's easier," not having to focus on multiple positions, Webb said. "But quarterback is still a difficult position. You still have to be on top of your game. Study the game and know where you're going to go with the ball."

Webb's story has proven to be an interesting one since he was selected by the Vikings in the sixth-round of the 2010 draft out of Alabama-Birmingham. The original plan was for Webb to be moved to wide receiver on a full-time basis.

The Vikings went away from that after Webb went through the team's rookie minicamp.

Brad Childress, the Vikings' coach at the time, said the decision was made to keep Webb at quarterback because the organization realized just how strong his arm was after seeing him throw the ball. It was mentioned by others that Webb also had enough trouble catching the ball that the team became concerned he wouldn't make it playing wide receiver.

Whatever the case, Webb ended up starting the final two regular-season games of his rookie year at quarterback. He did not throw a touchdown pass, but he did help the Vikings to a 24-14 upset victory at Philadelphia. That win certainly helped Leslie Frazier get the interim tag removed from his head coaching title.

The Vikings and Webb then lost their regular-season finale at Detroit. The next day Frazier was hired as coach.

Asked what he had learned in his first two years in the NFL, Webb said: "I would say move onto the next play. You make a bad play or bad things happen, move forward. Don't sit back there and say, 'Oh, man, I made that mistake.' Especially at the quarterback position. ... Just be a leader, lead the guys no matter (what)."

Webb, of course, is a fantastic all-around athlete and would seem well suited to being used in some type of Wildcat role. The Vikings had a package of plays for him last season, but they seemed to be less than creative.

One reason might have been because Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave did not have time to work with Webb and the offense during the offseason because of the NFL lockout. That isn't an issue this spring.

The Vikings have gone through their 10 practices that are part of Organized Team Activities and will begin their three-day minicamp on Tuesday at Winter Park.

Webb said he is "not sure right now," if there might be some plays designed for him that could involve Ponder handing over the quarterback duties at certain times. "If the coaches decide to do that then I'm all for it," he said. "Right now, I'm just trying to focus on (playing) quarterback."

Webb couldn't be blamed if he looks at players like the Jets' Tim Tebow and Buffalo's Brad Smith and wonders if he couldn't be used in the same type of creative ways.

"I look at it and those guys are very good athletes," Webb said. "I look at it saying we have sort of similar abilities. I just leave it up to the coaches. I try not to go to the coaches and say, 'Coach, I can do this, you can put me at receiver, or I can do that, or (play me in the) Wildcat.' I leave it up to them, so whatever they have for me, I'm going to try to execute it to the best of my abilities."

Despite the fact that Ponder is the clear-cut starting quarterback on this team ahead of Webb and Sage Rosenfels, Webb said that won't change his mentality entering camp late next month.

"Just work on my craft and get myself better," he said when asked about his approach given the circumstances. "Me and Christian, we're in it together. I'm his eyes when he's on the field, and he's my eyes when I'm on the field. We just try to push one another to get better. I'm pushing him to get better and he pushes me to get better."

Veteran presence

Veteran cornerback Chris Carr, whom the Vikings signed to a one-year, $825,000 contract this spring, feels as if he can not only contribute on the field, but also help the younger members of the team's secondary.

"I feel like I have a very extensive football knowledge," said Carr, who was signed by the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent out of Boise State in 2005 and also has spent time with the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens. "It's not only knowing the plays and how to run them, it's how do offenses try to attack you? When you're younger, you really don't know that.

"You really don't understand how to watch film. I think when it comes to that, and I'm already talking to a lot of the young guys, I feel like as we get going ... I just think it's going to be a tremendous improvement going into this year after last season.

"Because last season, you're watching the tape, it wasn't so much the talent. You could just tell sometimes they just didn't know how they were going to attack (teams). They didn't have that experience. So, hopefully, if I can talk to them and they have any questions. ... I'm always going to offer input if I feel like I can help out my teammates as well."

Frazier said that Carr's football "smarts" definitely have jumped out so far.

"You know getting a veteran, he's going to be a guy who has a good feel for the NFL game," Frazier said. "But the way he has picked up some of the things that we're trying to incorporate with our defense and his leadership as well has been a real plus in the meeting room. He's provided something for us that we didn't know we would quite get. His leadership, along with his smarts.

"We were kind of hoping that was the case, and we felt like physically he would help us. He's done some good things in his career, but he's brought some leadership to us as well, which was sorely needed in our secondary."

Carr, 29, had his most productive season with Baltimore in 2010, when he had two interceptions, broke up eight passes and forced three fumbles in 16 starts. The Ravens rewarded Carr with a four-year contract, but hamstring and back issues limited him to nine games in 2011 and Baltimore released him on March 1.

Carr sat on the market until early April before he signed with the Vikings. He has had plenty of learning to do since that time because the Ravens and Vikings run very different defenses.

"Baltimore is pretty much man-to-man a lot of the time," Carr said. "You play two-man with a lot of zone blitzes. A lot of the zone in Baltimore, too, is really like man unless you've got to go shallow cross. Here you have man-to-man and other stuff, but you have a lot of true zone coverages, and so I have to get really accustomed to doing that because I wasn't used to just playing true zone.

"But when you come from a system, when you play a lot of man-to-man, I think when you go to a system like that it helps you out because you're used to having to play really good technique and being on your keys to play that type of defense. I feel comfortable in this type of defense because they give the corners a little bit more help here, and I think just me being used to playing man so much that I'm going to play well here."

Carr, by the way, is living in the house owned by former Viking Tony Richardson in Eden Prairie. That is the same house in which Brett Favre lived during his two-year stint in Minnesota.

End game

While Trevor Plouffe has been on a tear this month with the Twins, the same can't be said for the guy he replaced at third base. Danny Valencia, who was sent to Triple-A Rochester last month, is hitting .238 with two home runs and 16 RBI in 34 games and 130 at-bats with the Red Wings. Sean Burroughs, who also was sent down by the Twins, is hitting .275 with one homer and 11 RBI in 36 games and 120 at-bats for the same team. 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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