VIKINGS: Ready or not, rookie quarterback likely to get his first Vikings startBrett Favre, the usual fighter, sounds like a 41-year-old, banged-up quarterback who plans to sit and watch from the sidelines for the second consecutive week. Backup Tarvaris Jackson might have played his last snaps with the Vikings (5-8) after the team placed him on injured reserve because of ligament damage to his toe.
By: Jeremy Fowler and Brian Murphy, St. Paul Pioneer Prsss / MCT
Buried in the snow of TCF Bank Stadium is a Vikings quarterback conundrum that makes Brett Favre smirk.
Favre, the usual fighter, sounds like a 41-year-old, banged-up quarterback who plans to sit and watch from the sidelines for the second consecutive week.
Backup Tarvaris Jackson might have played his last snaps with the Vikings (5-8) after the team placed him on injured reserve because of ligament damage to his toe.
That leaves third-string quarterback Joe Webb, who was drafted as a wide receiver less than eight months ago, to start his first career game Monday against Chicago -- with the NFL's second-best run defense -- in temperatures expected to reach the single digits.
When told of all the obstacles Webb is facing in his debut, Favre acknowledged the daunting task with a subtle smile and a timely "other than that ... "
With Favre hurting and Jackson on IR, Webb's only healthy backup is Patrick Ramsey, a nine-year NFL journeyman who signed Wednesday but hasn't played a meaningful snap since 2007 with Denver.
But even Favre can see beyond the chaos and recognize the Vikings' predicament as a team catching a glimpse of what the future might hold at quarterback.
Webb is auditioning for a team trying to decide whether to spend a first-round draft pick on a quarterback in 2011.
"You've got to find out what he can do at some point," Favre said of Webb.
Webb is as much an intriguing quarterback prospect as he is elusive. The superior athlete can jump almost six feet high, runs a 4.43 time in the 40 and carries a chiseled 6-foot-4 frame that might make Julius Peppers work a little harder to pull down.
Webb's scrambling skills were evident in the preseason, when he pulled off at least two highlight-reel runs. But his quarterback skills are raw, and Webb could be too early in his development to handle a stage of this magnitude.
Unless dissecting the NFL's fast-paced defenses comes naturally to him, of course. But not many have seen enough from him to make that determination.
"My comfort level is very high right now," Webb said. "I went through training camp and (organized team activities), preseason, learning the playbook, and you're toward the end of the season, so I learned a lot from Brett, T-Jack, coach (Darrell) Bevell. Coach (Kevin) Rogers has been doing a great job with me."
At least Webb has Favre's attention.
Favre, whose 297-game streak of consecutive starts ended Monday against the Giants, doesn't sound encouraged about playing and says he still has numbness in his right throwing hand. If the numbness persists into the weekend, Favre has said he won't play.
Enter Favre, spectator. What he'll likely see is an extended version of Webb's 2-of-5 Monday passing performance for 8 yards along with a 16-yard run.
"I'm probably like most people. I'm excited to see (Webb)," Favre said. "I love his attitude, his personality. There's no doubt the guy is as talented as they come. Raw as a passer. He's probably more dangerous with his feet than he is with his arm. ... It's a tough situation. Do I think he'll go 20 for 25 and 300 yards? He could, but I think he'll make a lot of plays. I think he'll be cold, but he's got the right mentality and guys love him."
When asked point blank Thursday whether he would play, Favre said "I don't see any change today" regarding the numbness in his throwing hand, then proceeded to talk about all the discomfort he's feeling and how it's not worth trying to throw these days.
Favre also is dealing with a sprained sternoclavicular joint.
"Being a nerve or whatever, there's not a whole lot you can do," Favre said. "So I don't think it would even be wise to go out and throw and reaggravate it. So it's a time situation. ... I've got to think that throwing or getting hit again even remotely close to (recent games) would reaggravate it. So just trying to be as wise as I can with this, is what I think we're all doing."
There's a chance Vikings fans have seen the last of Favre, who acknowledged that the Dec. 5 hit from Bills linebacker Arthur Moats that caused the shoulder injury "very well could be the last play."
Favre said he will stay with the team for the remaining three games even if he can't play the rest of the season.
His lasting memory with the Vikings could be a 10-touchdown, 18-interception season that largely contributed to the team's 5-8 record.
"Twenty great years, good and bad," Favre said. "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. I'm not going to beat myself up over it one way or the other."
As the old quarterback fizzles out, a new -- and faster -- model emerges.
"Hopefully, I can run back some scrambles and return that back to the house," Webb said.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.