EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When Davis Webb takes his first snap in the Giants' preseason opener Thursday night vs. the Cleveland Browns, it will have been 343 days since he last played in a game. But the feeling will not be foreign to the team's second-year backup quarterback.
Each time Webb takes a rep in practice, he tries to create a game-like situation for himself. He believes that will enable him to adjust quicker in a real game.
"Every single day at practice I treat it like, 'Hey, this is fourth down and goal to win the game, this is a two-minute drive to kick a field goal, this is first-and-10 first play of the game, you want to get a completion,'" Webb said today. "I approach every single play that way, so if I ever got thrown in there, I wasn't rattled or anything, I was just playing like it was practice. Just playing fast and efficient.
"Sometimes at practice, especially in training camp, I want to be a little bit more aggressive, so I know I can't make that throw or I know if it's a throw that's a tight window, I want to try and make it in practice. I want to see if I can make it or not so when the game comes, I see that same look and I know I can't make it. Check down and move on to the progressions. During practice, I kind of approach it two different ways. If it's a game-like situation, I approach it like a game-like situation, but if it's team blitz, I'm being aggressive. I'm trying to be really aggressive throwing the football."
Webb, the Giants' third-round draft choice in 2017, did not take a regular-season snap in his rookie year. In preseason play, he completed 18 of 34 passes for 190 yards and threw neither a touchdown pass nor an interception.
But he did have one big moment. On the final drive of the preseason finale at New England, Webb completed four of six passes on a 45-yard drive that set up Aldrick Rosas' game-winning 48-yard field goal as time expired.
That is still his most recent game action, and despite almost a full-year gap, Webb said he can benefit from it.
"I think it gave me a lot of confidence," he said. "I think there were 39 seconds left and we got to drive down and kick a field goal to win the game. If you don't, you lose. If you do, you win. It was just so much fun to go out there with (Marquis) Bundy and Matt LaCosse and Jon (Halapio) at center - just have a lot of fun and kind of go in two-minute mode where you haven't gotten a lot of reps with your guys and going against a great team in New England, which obviously had a lot of good players on their team and went to the Super Bowl. It gave me a lot of confidence to kind of move around the pocket a little bit, deliver some passes and our guys got open, so it was a lot of fun."
Although he is still backing up Eli Manning, Webb's position in the team's quarterback hierarchy has changed from a year ago. In 2017, he was considered the Giants' No. 3 passer, behind co-No. 2s Geno Smith and Josh Johnson. This spring and summer, Webs has taken the second-team snaps, with rookie fourth-round draft choice Kyle Lauletta and veteran Alex Tanney behind him.
Another difference is his knowledge of the Giants' offense. Last year, he was well behind Manning in understanding Ben McAdoo's scheme. But this year, Manning and he each had to learn Pat Shurmur's offense together.
"It's night and day," Webb said. "I think coming in a year ago and Eli being in his fourth year in coach McAdoo's system and me being in my first, obviously you're going to be behind a little bit. Now we're all kind of learning at the same pace and I feel good, we all feel good, we all feel very confident. I've had one preseason drive under my belt, so it gave me some confidence then, but you can't dwell on it. You can't really go back, either. You just kind of accept that experience and move on and try to make it better next time.
"I think all the quarterbacks are going to get playing time, I'm just excited to be one of them. I'm going to go out there and play as hard as I can and translate what I've been doing on the practice field to the game. I feel like I'm doing a lot of good things on the practice field, I feel like I've gotten better every day. I think it's easy to see from a year ago how much better I am, and how much better I'm going to get. Just take it day by day and continue to get better. It's one preseason game, so just treat it as that and play the best I can. They are really good over there, they have a lot of guys drafted number one overall in (quarterback) Baker (Mayfield) and (defensive lineman) Myles (Garrett) and the guys on defense. (Coordinator) Gregg Williams is one of the best in the business at what he does, there's a lot of respect over there."
Webb isn't certain how much he'll play tomorrow, the rest of the preseason, or in the regular season. But he is not putting any pressure on himself to go out and make a big splash.
"I don't believe in pressure," he said. "I'm one of the quarterbacks of the New York Giants, ain't nothing wrong with that. I just kind of go out there and play hard and see what happens."