And he didn’t waste any time doing just that.
On Johnson’s first snap as a Raven, the veteran cornerback forced a fumble by Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace, which was scooped up by safety
"I’m a vet, so I try to hold myself up to make the plays every time I’m out there to do what I need to do to help this team,” Johnson said.
The Ravens signed Johnson last week in an attempt to add some depth to an injury-riddled secondary. When they signed him, it had been almost a year since Johnson had played a competitive football game.
He hadn’t even practiced with a team since last December when the Oakland Raiders placed him on the reserve/non-football injury list. Johnson didn’t attend training camp with any team and he spent the last several months working out on his own hoping for another shot in the NFL.
Then the Ravens came calling, and just five days after joining the team, he was on the field as the nickel back for a primetime game against the rival Steelers.
"To me it became evident [that he could play this week] the second that we signed him because I knew he was going to have to play,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "It was the fact that he was in the kind of shape in the workout that we thought he was going to be able to do it.”
The fumble that Johnson forced was an instinct play based on some of the offseason training he had while he was out of the game. He took boxing lessons to stay in shape, and the play on Wallace was a testament to those boxing skills.
"In the offseason I take boxing lessons, so that’s a job for me,” Johnson said. "I saw him cut across my face, so I just wanted to get a stray hand in there, and I knew I got the ball out.”
Johnson’s return to the NFL did end up getting cut short, as he tweaked a hamstring and only ended up playing six defensive snaps on the day. His status for this week’s game is currently up in the air, but if he is healthy, Johnson showed that he could provide some much-needed contributions to an ailing secondary.
"We’ll just have to see how the hamstring is Wednesday, Thursday to see if he’ll be ready to go this week,” Harbaugh said.