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The Minnesota Vikings may not be entirely sure who their future franchise quarterback is, but they apparently know who it won’t be. It was announced on Wednesday that head coach Leslie Frazier has decided to move backup quarterback Joe Webb to receiver on a full-time basis. Webb, who started the Vikings’ first playoff game since the end of the 2012 season due to starter Christian Ponder’s elbow injury, completed 11 of 30 passes for 180 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in the Vikings’ 24-10 wild-card loss to the Green Bay Packers. Those passes were the first Webb had thrown since the 2011 season finale against the Chicago Bears.
Webb was a quarterback/receiver combo player at Alabama-Birmingham, and the Vikings selected him in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL draft more for his impressive athleticism than his positional specificity. Now, with Ponder established as the starter and former New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel signed on as the backup, Webb will add to a receiver corps that was weakened in the offseason by the trade of Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks, but bolstered by the addition of Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round of the 2013 draft. It was after the Patterson selection that Frazier informed Webb of his new full-time role.
“Coach brought me in the office and talked to me about the different plans they had and stuff,” Webb told Sid Hartman of the Star-Tribune. “I haven’t played [receiver] since my rookie minicamp, but I think I can adjust to it pretty good. You just have to put in a lot of work. Coach Stew [wide receivers coach George Stewart] will do a lot of that with me, so we’ll see what happens.”
It was thought by some at the time that the Vikings were drafting Webb to be a receiver, but after Brett Favre’s injuries in 2010, the team’s quarterback situation was nebulous enough for Webb to get some time under center. He started two games in his rookie campaign, and played in 11 in 2011. The Vikings selected Ponder in the first round of the 2012 draft, and while Ponder’s overall results have been less than totally impressive, he’s going to be the man at that position — at least, in the short term.
Webb’s positional switch does give Ponder another target. He spent his entire sophomore season at UAB at receiver, but he said that his experience at quarterback goves him an advantage.
“I always relate things that I see on the field to quarterbacks — to Christian [Ponder], to Matt Cassel, to [McLeod] Bethel-Thompson, I can tell those guys what I see out there. That will help them out a lot, my quarterback experience. Also, it will help the receivers out — for instance if they see a safety rotating down, different coverages that teams prepare and things like that. I think it’s going to be a big help.”
Webb, who displayed 4.4 speed as a draft prospect, has caught 33 passes for 480 yards and four touchdowns total in his college and pro careers. Just one of those catches — a nine-yard reception against the Packers in Nov., 2011 — came in the NFL.
Welcome to Wired’s live blog of the Google IO keynote. What should we expect today? We know it won’t be a roll-up of Chrome and Android, no matter how much that might make sense. But we are hoping for an …
Free agent quarterback Vince Young is still looking for a team that will allow him to continue his NFL career, but the No. 3 overall pick of the 2006 NFL draft has crossed a major life achievement off his to-do list as he has graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in education.
Young places the achievement ahead of leading the Longhorns to a national championship win in 2005, Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com reports.
“This will rank No. 1 because it is what I came to school for,” Young said. “I came here to get an education, and to win a national championship. And now, I get to put that smile on my mom’s face.”
Young was a two-year starter for the Longhorns before declaring for the NFL draft following the 2005 season. In 60 games with the Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles, Young passed for 8,964 yards with 46 touchdowns and 51 interceptions, adding 1,459 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. Young last appeared in a regular season game with the Eagles in 2011 and went to training camp last year with the Buffalo Bills, but failed to make the team’s 53-man roster.
“I’m about to be the first in my family to graduate,” he said. “Just finishing what I started. That’s why I’m trying to get back in the NFL. To finish what I started. That is the type of guy I am. I do work hard — even when the times are good or bad. That’s just how I was raised.
“My mom used to be strung out on drugs. The one thing she used to always be able to do, was be in the house to go to work the next morning. I don’t know how she got up after she was doing the things she was doing, but she used to be right there making sure we were getting ready for school and she was going to work. I saw that.”
Young, who turns 30 on Saturday, worked out for NFL talent evaluators at Texas’ pro day in March, has yet to receive an offer, but remains hopeful that his phone will ring. If that doesn’t happen, however, Young has taken a major step towards preparing for life after football.
As we and many others reported yesterday, the New England Patriots released defensive tackle Kyle Love this week in the wake of the news that he has Type-2 diabetes. And for those who were wondering whether Love’s release might have been for other reasons, there’s a lot of evidence that there were no other reasons. First, there was the fact that New England released Love, who started 25 games for the team over the last two seasons, with a non-football injury designation. And, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the Pats gave Love two options: Either retire for a year, in which case the team would not move to recover any part of the $ 500,000 signing bonus he received as part of his two-year, $ 3.09 million contract extension he signed in 2012, or take a risk on playing sooner, and take a walk.
Love chose the latter, and as it turned out, he didn’t have to wait long for a team interested in his services. The Jacksonville Jaguars reported, per the team’s official website, that they picked Love up off waivers on Thursday. Love had lost about 30 pounds off his 315-pound frame in the offseason, which left him unable to participate in off-season activities for the Pats, but according to his agent, Richard Kopelman, Love is back in fighting shape and ready for action.
“Prior to the diagnosis, Kyle recently experienced unexplained weight loss, but since being diagnosed and having altered his diet, Kyle has regained most of the weight he lost, is in good health, and was not limited in any way during offseason workouts in which he was engaged up until being told he would be released,” Kopelman told ESPN Boston on Wednesday.
Love is the second former Patriots defensive lineman picked up by the Jaguars this week — they also acquired defensive end Brandon Deaderick off waivers on Tuesday.
Love played primarily as a run-stopping tackle for the Patriots, and he could well perform the same role for new Jags head coach Gus Bradley, who learned a lot about multiple fronts from Pete Carroll when Bradley was Seattle’s defensive coordinator. Jacksonville signed tackles Sen’Derrick Marks and Roy Miller this offseason, moved former tackle Tyson Alualu to end (where Deaderick will also compete for playing time), and the Jags, who have been missing true pass-rush effectiveness for a number of years, will try Jason Babin as the LEO pass-rushing end.
Kudos to the Jags for taking a chance on Love, who had quietly morphed into a good rotational player in his third NFL season. He was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010 out of Mississippi State, and became an important cog in a championship-level line. It’s also worth mentioning — once again — that diabetes is far from an NFL career-ender.
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2008, two years after the Denver Broncos selected him in the first round. Three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Sinclair, who racked up 73.5 sacks for the Seattle Seahawks between 1992 and 2001 and still holds the team’s single-season sack mark with 16.5, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes late in his career. And offensive guard Kendall Simmons started 83 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills from 2002 through 2009 as a Type 1.5 (Latent Autoimmune) diabetic.
As for the Patriots, you’d think they’ll have some explaining to do if the NFLPA comes calling with questions about the way this was handled. And the NFLPA should be doing exactly that.
David Garrard’s injured left knee will end his decade-long playing career, but the former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback could begin his coaching career with an internship with the New York Jets, reports Jim Corbett of the USA Today.
Garrard, 35, has not played in an NFL game since 2010. After being released by the Jaguars a week before the 2011 season, Garrard had surgery to repair a herniated disk, a procedure that ended his season. Garrard resurfaced with the Miami Dolphins last offseason, but injured his knee away from the field at the start of training camp and was released in September.
In March, the Jets signed Garrard to a one-year deal worth up to $ 1.35 million to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster. Garrard’s left knee forced him to call it quits on Wednesday, but the Jets have provided him with an opportunity to return as a coach during this year’s training camp.
“The Jets offered me the chance to come back if I want to take a shot at that coaching thing with an internship in training camp,” said Garrard, whose wife recently gave birth to the couple’s third child. “I told them I’d talk with my wife about it, so I could still work with those guys. “It’s definitely something I’m considering.”
With Garrard out of the fold on the roster, 2013 second-round pick Geno Smith is expected to press the much-maligned incumbent Mark Sanchez for the starting role. Garrard said the battle will be fought during the preseason.
“If he (Sanchez) goes out there as the vet and gets back to just playing ball and not thinking too much on the field, he’s going to make it tough on (the coaching staff),” Garrard said. “It’s up to those guys (Smith and Sanchez), the way they carry themselves and handle the offense, really putting points on the board and winning ballgames.
“So when they get to the preseason, it’s really going to show who should be the guy.”
Wired has obtained a copy of a cease and desist letter sent by Google to Microsoft today, demanding Microsoft immediately remove the YouTube app from its Windows Phone Store and disable existing copies on consumers’ devices by May 22.
As expected, there was nothing revolutionary about the boatload of upgrades introduced at today’s Google I/O conference, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a whole lot of very cool stuff announced.
Remember that infamous Seattle-Green Bay Monday Night Football game last season where the replacement refs completely butchered the outcome? (Sorry, Packers fans.)
Richard Sherman, who was on the winning Seattle team, sure does, and in a bit of devilish humor has hired replacement ref Lance Easley (he’s the one making the “touchdown” score there) to umpire at his upcoming charity softball game. Easley ruled that Seattle’s Golden Tate snagged a touchdown even though it sure appeared that Green Bay’s M.D. Jennings intercepted the pass. (The NFL even admitted the refs’ error, and that game was seen as one of the reasons hastening the NFL’s settlement with its regular refs.)
“Don’t be surprised if a few flags are thrown,” reads Sherman’s event’s Facebook page. The game will take place on July 7 at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Wash., which is a good thing because any closer to Wisconsin, and Cheeseheads would be on the march.
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-
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