Webb getting up to speed at QB


CHARLOTTE – Joe Webb has always been a student of the game, and that's even more so the case with a new playbook and a position switch on his list of assignments.

Like most students, Webb enjoys field trips.

"You can sit there and look at the Xs and Os in the classroom, but there's nothing like coming out on the field, getting the actual reps, learning from your mistakes and capitalizing on your chances," Webb said. "It's helping a lot."

Webb got ample opportunity to reacclimate to the quarterback position with his new team during the Panthers' nine-week offseason workout program that concluded Thursday. With starting quarterback Cam Newton taking part in his first team drills of the offseason Thursday – three months after ankle surgery – Webb, along with returning quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Matt Blanchard, got more reps than usual.

Webb took advantage.

"Joe has been doing a really good job, and especially in our offense, which isn't an easy one for quarterbacks," center Ryan Kalil said. "These camps are meant to throw a lot of information at guys and see what the guys can handle and what they can't, and he's done a really good job with it."

Webb signed with the Panthers as an unrestricted free agent less than a week after Newton's surgery. Webb spent his first four NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, predominantly playing quarterback the first three years before switching to wide receiver in 2013.

He said Carolina presented the perfect opportunity for him.

"For one, I wanted to get back to quarterback. Coach (Ron) Rivera gave me that chance here, and I appreciate him for that," Webb said. "Second, the offense fits my style of play. Plus, everything felt like home, just felt right when I came up here on my visit and my workout. It just felt right, and mom and dad always tell you, 'Go with your heart.'

"It's been great. I love the city, and my new teammates have accepted me with open arms."

Webb rushed for 2,774 yards at Alabama-Birmingham, the third-most in NCAA history for a quarterback but a number that could have been even bigger if he had just played quarterback. As a sophomore, Webb was the team's second-leading passer, rusher and receiver, completing 65 passes while catching 30 catches.

Known for his blazing speed, there's no truth to the rumor that the former Blazer completed some passes to himself.

"The playbook they have in, I ran a lot of that in college at UAB with the zone read and things like that," Webb said. "Whatever wisdom I have, I'm sharing it. That includes coming from receiver and understanding where those guys are coming from. That helps me communicate with them on a whole different level."

Webb's strong summer hasn't gone unnoticed.

"He's competing," general manager Dave Gettleman said. "He's athletic. He's got a big arm. He's done a real nice job in the two-minute stuff."

Last year, the Panthers carried just two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. Could Webb change that approach?

"You've got to see how it plays out," Gettleman said. "It all depends upon what your roster looks like at 53."

If Webb isn't able to crack the roster as a reserve quarterback, that doesn't mean he won't be on the roster.

"I'm open. Whatever Coach Rivera has for me in the future, I'm open," Webb said. "I'm a team guy. Right now, they have me focused on quarterback, so I'm just putting all my energy into the quarterback position. I hope it pays off."

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