EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Rookie quarterback Davis Webb can be found most days at practice standing off to the side taking mental reps while the New York Giants other three quarterbacks are participating in live drills. Occasionally, he’ll sneak in for a few plays with the third-team offense. That's a busy day for the former California signal-caller.
It’s the non-glamorous life of a young quarterback who seems to be far behind in the competition for the backup job behind unequivocal starter Eli Manning. But it doesn’t mean that Webb has been completely ruled out to be the team’s No. 2 quarterback ahead of veterans Josh Johnson and Geno Smith.
“I think we all have to be careful making assumptions,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “Josh and Geno are competing right now for the No. 2 spot and if it doesn’t look the way we want it to look, Davis will get a crack.”
In other words: Consider Webb a longshot, at best, but don't completely close the door. Johnson and Smith have been alternating days with the second- and third-team offense. While neither has done much to separate from the competition, at least they're getting ample opportunities. The same can't be said for Webb.
Webb spends entire practices watching from the side on certain days. Much of his reps come in a special 7-on-7 “Opportunity Period” that McAdoo added this summer in large part so his rookie quarterback could get some snaps in live drills. The period puts Webb on the field alongside other young players who need the extra work.
The way McAdoo made it sound on Thursday was that Webb could seriously enter the backup quarterback competition if Johnson and Smith badly falter. Johnson struggled in the preseason opener even though he wasn’t helped by a pair of Roger Lewis miscues that cost him a pair of touchdown passes. Smith flashed but threw a pair of interceptions (even though one was negated by a penalty) in two quarters of action.
Smith also has experienced trouble handling the ball in recent practices, including a play Thursday where he appeared to fumble.
Webb had his moments in his first NFL action Friday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He went 8-of-16 passing for 67 yards.
This Monday will be another important outing for Johnson and Smith as they try to win the job. The Giants play their second preseason game of the year Monday night in Cleveland.
After sitting out the opener, Manning is expected to play in that contest. With Johnson and Smith likely up next, Webb could be left waiting for his next opportunity to appear in a game. It may not come until the preseason finale against the New England Patriots on Aug. 31.
McAdoo, who didn't publicly detail a plan for Webb's preseason playing time, insists there is plenty of time for Webb to close the gap on the veterans.
“We played one preseason game,” McAdoo said. “There is a lot of football left to play. Seventy-five percent of the preseason.”
In the meantime, Webb is left to make the most of what is available. Right now that means running the scout team. As the Giants began preparations Thursday for Cleveland, Webb played the part of the Browns’ quarterback.
“We’re giving him more team snaps. [Thursday] was a little bit change of pace,” McAdoo said. “We’re learning to practice on how to prepare for an opponent. So we had some ups and downs with that [Thursday]. We were a little slow with our tempo but that will get better as we move forward.
“But Davis will have an opportunity to take more snaps in that environment, yes.”
He’ll likely have to impress in that role and have Johnson and Smith flop in order to seriously enter the picture for the backup job.