He hasn’t even dressed for an NFL game yet, but Davis Webb is already emulating Eli Manning in two ways: his Seinfeld fandom and his locker room professionalism.
In perhaps the biggest development of his infantile NFL career, Webb, the Giants’ third-round selection in last spring’s draft, took some snaps with the first team unit during Wednesday afternoon’s practice.
“Our depth chart hasn’t changed, but we have eight reps in practice where we go (first-team) offense vs. (first-team) offense,” interim head coach Steve SPagnuolo. “Normally, Eli would take all of those, but Davis took six of the eight today. So we’re amping him up a little bit.”
Webb, who has transformed into arguably New York City’s most talked about athlete this time of year, remained humble when asked proached about his new opportunity.
“I commit to the controlables and try to stay in the moment, only be in the present. Today was today, and it’s over. Now I’m excited to go in and watch the film a little bit,” Webb said after practice.
“Right now, all I’m worried about is helping Eli and Geno (Smith) prepare to beat the Arizona Cardinals. That’s our goal as a team. We expect to win that game.”
The Giants’ highest selection of a quarterback since the famous 2004 selection of Phillip Rivers, who, of course, was later traded for Manning, Webb went into his rookie campaign knowing it would be a year of learning and mental reps, a year of tutoring under veteran quarterbacks Manning and Smith. The rookie has expressed his gratitude for his experienced mentors and Wednesday was no exception.
“There’s definitely some hiccups along the road, but I’ve had a real blessing in watching Eli and Geno go through reps in practices every day, see how they communicate to teammates and see how they are on the board and in the film room, in the classroom,” Webb said.
“So, I’ve had a real blessing to sit back and kind of learn a little bit and again, I’m going to continue to learn, those guys are the best at what they do and I enjoy being with them every day in the meeting room.”
One of those mentors and Webb’s locker neighbor gave the protege a positive review.
“I thought he made some good calls and got us in some better plays, some good checks and ran the offense well,” Manning analyzed. “He just hasn’t had many reps with running this offense and even in training camp we had four quarterbacks, he was the fourth one. He’s played some (reps), he’s a smart kid and he can figure it out.”
Webb himself thought things went well, as explained in a self-analysis.
“It was a cool experience. I got better from it today,” he said. “I think I did good. It was my first time getting reps a little bit in a team setting and I think I did pretty good job. There’s things I need to work on, obviously, but I thought I did a pretty solid job.”
With the woebegone Giants (2-12) on the wrong end of several blowouts this season, many fans have clamored to see Webb take the field, wishing to see him take the field in mop-up duty. The Giants have trailed by double digits in the fourth quarter in six of their past eight games, the exceptions being the 12-9 win over Kansas City in November and Sunday’s 34-29 loss to Philadelphia.
In each of their first 14 games, however, Manning and Smith have been the dressed quarterbacks. Spagnuolo stated that this probably will remain the case for the Giants’ penultimate game of the season in Arizona on Sunday (4:25 PM, FOX), but left the door every so slightly ajar for Webb to at least dress.
“As of right now, no. But who knows?” Spagnuolo said when asked about Webb possibly being active Sunday. “There’s always a chance, but we’ll see.”
With principal owner John Mara condemning the mere notion of tanking in his last public appearance, Spagnuolo reiterated that the team’s focus is to win games their two remaining games. Manning, in his opinion, gives the team the best chance to do that.
“I want to do what’s in the best interest of the organization, but I do know the organization wants to win football games,” he said. “I prefer to have Eli Manning in there winning. I’m worried about this game first.”
With the Giants undoubtedly getting ready to make a high first-round pick in next spring’s draft, some find it imperative for Webb to get some snaps in these final pair of games, especially with touted prospects Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield likely on the board.
“I think I’ve done everything asked of me and then some. I do a lot of preparation stuff with other quarterbacks, the receivers, tight ends and stuff like that. So, I don’t know,” Webb said if asked if he needs games reps to prove he’s the heir to Manning’s quarterback throne. “That’s a question you’ve got to ask a little higher than me that’ll give you an answer.”
Time will tell if today’s milestone will lead to any regular season snaps before the year lets out, but it’s not going to change his mindset in the slightest.
“I try to act like I’m a starter each and every week, every single day until about 30 minutes before game time. I try to approach that way, get into a routine, so if it ever does happen, I would be in a pretty good routine to be ready,” he said. “But at the same time, I’m here to help out Eli and have him enjoy success with all of our teammates on Sunday.”