Josh Johnson Pushes Mallett for Backup Job in Baltimore
Josh Johnson Is Competing With Ryan Mallet For the Backup Quarterback job.
Preseason brings the joy of vanilla play calling, bush league announce teams, and meaningless final scores; however, sometimes a player steps up and makes the games worth watching.
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Through the first two games, journeyman quarterback Josh Johnson is making a strong case to make the team. Ryan Mallett, who started both preseason games, was a late season addition last year and seemed to be the clear favorite to win the spot, but Johnson’s play warrants at least a conversation.
Johnson is completing over 70% of his passes and had thrown for 155 yards and 1 touchdown. Adding in 57 rushing yards makes this a productive start to his Ravens’ career. His numbers look similar to Mallett’s, but Mallett started both games, playing with and against the first teams.
A former fifth round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Johnson has yet to find a home in the league. Four years in Tampa only amounted to five starts, all losses. Baltimore is the sixth team he has played for in the five years since being released by the Buccaneers.
Even though he has failed to land a long-term backup deal, Johnson continues to be sought after because of his athleticism. He ran a 4.55 40 yard dash at the 2008 NFL Combine. At the University of San Diego, he had over 700 rushing yards in both his junior and senior season. His senior season put him on the map as he also threw 43 touchdown passes and only one interception.
Johnson’s last attempted a pass in the regular season in 2013 when he was a backup on the Cincinnati Bengals. Turnovers (both interceptions and fumbles) mired all of Johnson’s regular season starts. In 2009, Johnson started four games for the Tampa Bay; he replaced an ineffective starter Byron Leftwich beginning in week four. He threw eight interceptions in four games before Josh Freeman replaced him. The Buccaneers selected Freeman in the first round earlier that year.
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Although he posses unquestioned athletic gifts, this may be his last chance to prove he can still contribute to a team. His efficient play may only result as a good try out for another NFL team, but he is making a strong case to be the backup for the Ravens.