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Giants' rookie quarterback Davis Webb takes 'huge step' as workload increases

The Giants' depth chart remains unchanged, but Davis Webb (5) took some first-team snaps during a drill between offensive and defensive starters. Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A normal practice for quarterback Davis Webb during his rookie season had meant splitting scout team reps with backup Geno Smith. That changed on Wednesday for the first time this year.

Webb took some first-team snaps during a drill that pitted the Giants' defense vs. Giants' offense. Starters vs. starters.

The third-round pick considered it a "huge step" in his progression. Usually Eli Manning handles all eight offensive plays during the drill. Webb took six of the eight snaps on Wednesday; Manning took two.

It was the first time this season that Webb has received such an opportunity.

"It has been a little while," he said. "Again, I felt great. I did a good job communicating to the offensive linemen, a good job in the huddle. I think I did a good job. There are definitely things I need to work on, but I'm pretty happy with my start [Wednesday], my first time in a while."

It doesn't mean that Webb is in the mix to start Sunday when the New York Giants play on the road against the Arizona Cardinals. Interim coach Steve Spagnuolo said the quarterback depth chart remains unchanged: Manning, Smith, then Webb.

Webb is expected to be inactive for the 15th straight game. He's not likely to be in uniform Sunday for the first time in his career.

"As of right now, no," Spagnuolo said. "But who knows."

Manning will continue to start because the Giants believe he gives them the best chance to win. Spagnuolo believes he's doing what is best for the organization, because every indication they've given him is that priority No. 1 is to win.

It puts Webb in an awkward spot. Former coach Ben McAdoo was planning to get him into games several weeks back, until he was fired. Co-owner John Mara said he wanted to see Webb play, then he fired the coach who initiated that plan.

The Giants (2-12) have since reversed course. Mara has since said the decision on who to play is on the head coach.

Spagnuolo is at least cognizant that he has a young quarterback who needs reps sitting as his third-stringer behind a soon-to-be 37-year-old. He could be greasing the skids to get Webb into a game in the final week of the season.

"We're amping him up a little bit," Spagnuolo said. "I've told you before he's always preparing like he's going to be a two or playing in the game, so preparation is always the same. I just wanted to make sure we got him some reps on the field."

Practice is a start, but Webb and Manning both conceded Wednesday that there is nothing like game experience. Practice is one thing; taking hits in a live environment is another. Seeing blitzes and real NFL speed can't exactly be replicated at practice.

"Both of them help," Manning said. "You can learn from watching, but nothing like game experience."

At this point, it appears that Webb will be lucky to get on the field for his NFL debut. The Giants play at Arizona on Sunday and host the Washington Redskins the following week.

It's not for a lack of trying. The Giants have raved about Webb's work ethic and attitude throughout his rookie year, and he's constantly preached about controlling the controllables. He's taken it all in stride.

"I think I've done everything asked of me, and then some," Webb said.

It has finally earned him some first-team practice reps. At least that's a step in the right direction.