July 13, 2011
By Gage Smith
UAB Athletic Media Relations
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ---- For former UAB quarterback Joe Webb, last summer was spent trying to learn the ropes of playing for a professional football team. This summer, however, Webb is just hoping there will be an NFL season for which to prepare.
"It's been very intense," Webb said of the continuing NFL lockout. "All we can do is try to stay in shape."
Webb, who spent his entire high school and college career playing in his hometown of Birmingham, was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round of the 2010 draft and saw action in three games, including the Dec. 18, 2010 game in which he rushed for a touchdown and led the Vikings in an upset against the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles, 24-14.
Webb replaced an injured Brett Favre late in the season, and it has been Favre who has helped Webb to stay focused throughout the off-season. After participating in workouts at the IMG Academy in Florida in May, Webb has spent the past few weeks in Hattiesburg, Miss., working on his throwing game with Favre.
"It's great to have a person like that as my contact," Webb said. "He can still sling it."
Webb says the biggest difference between this summer and last has been not being able to work out with the entire Vikings team. Webb, like all NFL players, hopes the lockout will end soon, maybe within the next 10 days. He says that while he gets updates from his Vikings teammates, it still is not the same as working together in training camp, and the information about the impending season "changes up every now and then."
Since Favre vacated the starting quarterback position in December, Webb has worked hard to prove to Vikings coach Leslie Frazier that he is the man for the job. Should the NFL owners and players union agree on terms this month, Webb will likely compete against Rhett Bomar and 2011 draftee Christian Ponder for the starting job.
Frazier took over as head coach late in the season following Brad Childress' dismissal, which could have caused much distress for a rookie QB. Webb, however, says it was not all that different from his time at UAB, when he experienced a coaching change with Neil Callaway taking over in December of 2006.
The dome collapse that Webb speaks of occurred just before his stunning performance against the Eagles in December. A snowstorm caused panels to be ripped out the roof of the Metrodome, which collapsed the ceiling and forced the Vikings to play their final home game at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium.
Needless to say, 2010 was quite the interesting year for Webb. As a rookie under Favre, he expected to see little-to-no playing time. Instead, he lit up the field in a nationally televised game. As a resident of Alabama, he expected the winter weather of Minnesota to be a mild inconvenience. Instead, he drove through a snowstorm that altered the entire ending of his season. As a second-year potential starter, he expected this summer to be full of mini-camps that would give him a chance to prove himself. Instead, he, like all NFL players, is biding his time, hoping for the end of a lockout. But even a lockout cannot get Webb down.
When asked about his jersey sales for the upcoming season, Webb smiled sheepishly and said he does not really think about that, but hopes a few fans might be interested in sporting one.
"I just want to show the world what I can do," Webb said with a grin. "I want to get a good name for UAB."