The Minnesota Vikings, and every other NFL team, cut their roster to 53 players on Saturday. One of the more notable preseason battles for a roster spot was between wide receiver Stephen Burton and quarterback turned-wide receiver Joe Webb. Webb caught a touchdown in the team’s third preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, then had five catches in the preseason finale against the Tennessee Titans, so it was not incredibly surprising to see him beat Burton out and become Minnesota’s fifth wide receiver entering the season.
Webb played quarterback and wide receiver in college at Alabama-Birmingham, but was moved strictly to quarterback by former Vikings’ head coach Brad Childress upon landing with the team as a sixth-round pick in 2010. I always felt a move to wide receiver was overdue, particulary due to the lack of talent the Vikings had at the position prior to adding some weapons this offseason. But it took a dismal performance by Webb under center, in place of an injured Christian Ponder, in last year’s playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers to force the current coaching staff’s hand.
I also felt Burton missed an opportunity to assert himself and be a productive pass catcher for the Vikings over the last two seasons, with just seven catches for 73 yards and a touchdown after being drafted in the seventh round in 2011. In my opinion his time had simply run out to prove he could be more than a blocker and special teams contributor with the additions of Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson during the offseason, and it appears Minnesota’s top decision makers agreed with me.
Webb also has extra value as a potential option to return kicks and a possible emergency quarterback, which Burton simply does not offer.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.