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Rookie Webb Anticipating First NFL Start

A sixth-round pick from the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Joe Webb is in line to start his first NFL game on Sunday night in Philadelphia.

But nothing is guaranteed.

Webb was penciled in as the starter last week when the Vikings faced the Chicago Bears. That is, until Brett Favre was upgraded from out to questionable and announced as the starting quarterback just hours before kickoff. But as fate would have it, Webb did get his chance to see the field, replacing an injured Favre in the second quarter for his first extended game action.

Webb admitted that the speed of the game was difficult to digest at first, as it is with most rookie quarterbacks. As time went on, however, the young Vikings quarterback began to find his rhythm.

"It was very fast as first," Webb said, "but then it started slowing down as the game went on. When I first got in there, my head was on a swivel a little bit, but as the game progressed through it started slowing down and I started to see things more clearly."

Webb told Philadelphia reporters on a conference call this week that if given the opportunity to sit, wait and learn as opposed to jump in and play, he'd take the latter.

"Just throw me in there and see what I can do," he said. "You can read off the chalkboard and right down plays all you want to, but you never know how you're going to be as a player until you get out there on the field."

His first chance to get on the field as a starter could come at Lincoln Financial Field, where weather conditions are expected to be, shall we say, dicey. But Webb has other concerns leading up to Sunday night, mainly an aggressive, opportunistic Eagles defense.

"You have to study film as much as possible," Webb said. "I'm trying to get as many tips as I possibly can. They have a great defensive scheme, so it's my job to continue to study it and try to figure it out from an offensive standpoint."

Also on the young quarterback's mind is the Eagles' 12th man. While he's never played in Philadelphia (he's never even been to Philadelphia), Webb knows exactly what to expect when he takes the field Sunday night.

"I'm expecting a hostile crowd," he said. "I've heard a lot about Eagles fans and how they get pretty loud and try to get in your head a little bit. But my job is to stay focused on the game and try to ignore the crowd. Just go in as if no one is in the stands, and try to block out the crowd and stay focused on the game."

That is, perhaps, easier said than done.

-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 2:40 p.m., December 22

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