Keep an eye on rookie quarterback Davis Webb at some point in Thursday night’s preseason game against the Patriots. Watch him closely. Because you likely won’t see him again for another 11 months or so.
That’s because if all goes according to plan, Eli Manning will be taking every snap from here on out for the rest of the season. Manning is not expected to play against the Patriots. If he needs to come to the sideline this season because of an injury or a blowout, the Giants likely will have Geno Smith or Josh Johnson, the veterans competing for the backup job, to take his place.
That probably makes this Webb’s last chance to see NFL game action until next year’s preseason. He is, after all, the potential quarterback of the future for the Giants. The 2017 season is not the future.
Webb, though, said he would not look at this game as a curtain call for his rookie year or feel the need to cram a season’s worth of experience into however much playing time he gets.
“I don’t think of it that way,” Webb told Newsday. “The way I approach it is this is my opportunity and I have to make the most of it. I’m excited for it.”
The third-round pick will spend the rest of the year running scout teams in practices for the Giants, meaning most of his growth will occur behind closed doors. Giants fans wanting updates on his progress will be blind.
Scout team is something Webb admitted he is not very accustomed to doing.
“I do know you have to be able to communicate with the defensive coaching staff,” Webb said. “Ask them what they want, what the opposing quarterbacks do. Are there different types of hand signals or the way they have their feet in the stance that tips off runs or passes or what kind of snap count do they use? The defense has the first role, and you are the second guy. Yes, you want to go through your reads and have the proper footwork and everything, but you want to make sure that defense is getting the look they’re supposed to get.”
That doesn’t mean he’ll take it easy on them, though.
“I take everything pretty seriously,” Webb said. “If I’m going to do something, I’m doing it full speed, so that’s scout team, taking reps, throwing in the nets, playing tic-tac-toe. I’m going to take it pretty seriously and I want to win.”
Same goes for Thursday against the Patriots. While Webb’s roster spot is almost certainly safe, Smith and Johnson will be locked in a final battle for the No. 2 job. Ben McAdoo has said Webb also is a candidate for the No. 2 spot, and he likely will have to wait until the end of the game as the No. 3 guy.
Webb has not taken many team snaps in the preseason, but in the six weeks or so since the start of training camp he said he has learned “a million things . . . and that’s not a stretch.”
“I learn something every five minutes from Eli,” he said. “Now we’re starting to game-plan things, so you see a different type of perspective than us installing new plays . . . I saw Eli the way he handled his group in the past two weeks, and now it’s time for me, Josh and Geno to do the same this week.”
Then they’ll take a seat and wait.