Everybody in the NFL is there to play on Sundays. But as long as Eli Manning is around, Davis Webb will make the most of Thursdays and Fridays.
Believe it or not, preseason football is just around the corner. The New York Giants play the Cleveland Browns three weeks from this Thursday, and a month after that, the real show begins. As the Giants gear up for it with a new regime and new schemes, Webb remains one of the intriguing subplots heading into training camp. The Giants' 2017 third-round draft choice aims to be the first quarterback off the bench in his second year behind Manning. Webb, who did not appear in a regular-season game as a rookie, will try to earn that right beginning next week at training camp and then into the preseason.
"Preseason, postseason, regular season, [it] does not matter," Webb said. "You've got to come bring it each and every [game day]. That's what we work for. That's why we put so much preparation into each and every week, and I put a lot of preparation in and I'm as ready as I can be. Now it's going out there and proving it. I'm excited to get some opportunities, hopefully this season to play a little ball with Eli and the guys and have a lot of fun doing it."
Until he gets into game action, Webb knows he will be somewhat of a mystery to those outside the organization as well as inside of it. He can make all the throws he wants to in practice, but there is no way to replicate live speed with live defenders. For now, preseason games will be the closest thing to it for Webb.
"At the New York Giants, we practice hard, we practice fast, we practice efficient," Webb said. "But the games are a whole other level. Everybody's speed picks up. I remember in the preseason, I got to play in the New England Patriots game, and …. the next week we played against Dallas and it was another inch faster, another millisecond faster. Everything picks up. For the postseason, I'm sure it picks up even faster – the Super Bowl, the fastest."
Adding another twist to Webb's journey was the arrival of Pat Shurmur. The former Vikings offensive coordinator took over as head coach this offseason and hired Mike Shula, previously of the Panthers, to carry out his vision of the offense. That makes Webb two-for-two in years having to learn a new NFL offense.
"Man, Coach Shumur and Coach Shula, if you look at their track record, they've had so much success on offense, both in Minnesota and Carolina," Webb said. "So Eli, me, Alex [Tanney] and Kyle [Lauletta], we come to work every single day, we're eager to learn because they've been around so many good quarterbacks from Cam Newton to Case Keenum, Sam Bradford in the past, and they've been around so many good players.
"So we're just trying to take it all in and the fun thing about this offense is we're installing something new every single day. It's always something new. We're trying to be multiple both in the run game, the pass game, formationally – we want to be a very hard offense to stop and that starts with our two great coaches calling the plays."
The skills players are not too shabby either.
Webb rattled off all the weapons they have on offense, including rookie running back Saquon Barkley and tight ends Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison, whom the quarterback said "had the best spring of anybody around here." And then there is the wide receiver corps, which includes Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Cody Latimer, Hunter Sharp, Kalif Raymond and Roger Lewis.
"I just named six [wide receivers] right there," Webb said. "That just shows you that we have a lot of playmakers on offense. Our O-line has really come together. Nate Solder has had a great spring. Pat [Omameh] had a great spring. Jon [Halapio] and Brett Jones had a great spring at center. We have Ereck Flowers and Will Hernandez came in and did a lot of good things this spring. We have a lot of good offensive players. Now it's just a matter of doing it consistently each and every play. That's what spring football is for. With the new offense, we got better every day I think. Now we get into training camp and take another step into reaching our goals this season."
Meanwhile, Webb said the biggest improvement he made this offseason is not that he does not make mistakes anymore; it's that he doesn't make the same one twice.
"The biggest thing is you're going to make mistakes in practice – from protections to maybe a throw to an adjustment protection-wise or in the run game – and it's OK to make mistakes in practice as long as you correct them and never do them again," Webb said. "I think that's one thing I've done a good job on. When I make a mistake, I put it in the memory bank and I move on. I don't make the same mistake twice."
The Giants as a whole did that too many times last season. They hope 2018 will be different, which they will soon begin to find out.