On Monday Night Football against the Kansas City Chiefs, undrafted rookie Sam Webb's number was called in some key situations, and the rookie showed that he could hold his own in the pros.
Webb was one of four undrafted free agents to make the initial 53-man roster. The Division II standout from Missouri Western had 16 total tackles, two pass deflections and a forced fumble in the preseason, flashing his talents as the team headed into the regular season.
With Nate Hobbs suffering a hand injury that affected his level of play at outside cornerback in Week 5, the "next-man up" mantra took place with Webb seeing 24 defensive snaps against his hometown team.
"I like when the pressure is on me," said Webb. "Pressure is an opportunity. Not everybody gets that put on them, so I take advantage of it."
Webb says his confidence stems from how well the coaching staff and his teammates prepare him in practice for game situations. He's labeled defensive backs Duron Harmon and Rock Ya-Sin as players that've helped him grow into his role in the next level. He anticipates that with more experience and reps, he'll continue to improve and adjust to the speed of the game. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham believes Webb is trending upward as he navigates the waters of the NFL.
"Sam has all the ability in the world," said Graham. "Again, the ability catching up with the mental, that comes with experience. It's not an excuse to say, 'Okay, a young player.' There are plenty of young players in league right now playing football and playing well. It's just the experience is what gives them the chance to be able to say, 'Okay, can I eliminate the variables? Can I play a little bit faster?' And that comes with experience. 'Okay, I've seen that before. I've seen this cut, split. before. I've seen this stem by the receiver. Now I'm able to play it faster.'
"That comes with time. You can't rush that, you can't rush that, and it really starts in practice," continued Graham. "It starts with practice, film study, and he's just growing because he's a young player."
Head Coach Josh McDaniels also praised the strides Webb has made this season not only as a cornerback, but on special teams. While the short-term loss of Hobbs is difficult, Graham is aware his defense will step up to adequately replace his production, stating "Nobody's going to feel sorry for us, so we're not going to feel sorry for ourselves."
Webb has adapted the mindset of his coaches, with his time to make an impact around the corner against the Houston Texans.
"This is a physical game and injuries happen every day at any time," he said. "Practice squad, second, third string got to be ready to come up and play and perform at the highest level."