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Josh Johnson Continues To Make A Case For Backup Job Over Ryan Mallett


Ryan Mallett has been the Ravens' first-team quarterback whenever Joe Flacco has been sidelined this summer. It's been assumed that the No. 2 quarterback job is Mallett's.

But third-string quarterback Josh Johnson is playing well enough to make that a question.

Johnson has looked good in summer practices and put it on display in Saturday's 19-18 win in Indianapolis. He led an impressive touchdown drive at the end of the first half, then preserved the win by making some plays with his legs down the stretch.

The veteran journeyman went 11-for-16 for 72 yards on the night and threw one touchdown, a beautiful 12-yard touch pass to wide receiver Jeremy Butler to end the first half.

"He is making a case to make this team," Harbaugh said of Johnson. "There is a competition for that [backup quarterback] spot, and it's been ongoing through training camp. He played well."

Harbaugh said he thought Mallett played well too, and didn't want to take anything away from him. Mallett completed six of eight passes for 47 yards and a 14-yard touchdown to wide receiver Kamar Aiken.

However, had the Colts not committed a special teams penalty to extend the Ravens' first drive of the game, Mallett and the first-team offense would have posted three-and-outs on three of their first four drives.

"We want to start faster and get into a good flow," Mallett said at halftime. "We didn't have the ball very much in the first quarter, but once we got the ball, we started running well and we were moving."

Johnson replaced Mallett with one minute, 44 seconds left in the first half. Johnson strung together seven straight completions, mostly on sideline throws, before finding Butler open for the 12-yard score.

Johnson said Butler alerted him that he might pop open in the huddle, then got a good pre-snap read from the Colts. Butler swept behind the Colts defense and Johnson perfectly placed the ball in his outstretched arms.

"I was able to get into a rhythm early and executed," Johnson said. "Coach called some great plays, guys ran some great routes. I was really just giving the playmakers the ball."

"He just operated really efficiently, got us to the line, got the plays called, got everybody in the right spot and made the right throws," Harbaugh added. "I just thought he was very poised, he was very accurate with his throws."

The Ravens turned to quarterback Jerrod Johnson to start the second half, but after he struggled and nearly fumbled, Baltimore went back to Josh Johnson near the end of the third quarter.

The veteran scrambled once for 18 yards on that drive, putting the Ravens in eventual position for a 21-yard field goal. Johnson picked up another first down in a third-and-long situation on his next drive, which got the Ravens out of deep field position.

"Later in the game, when guys covered a little bit more, he was able to find space in the pocket, protect the football while he did it, and use his legs to make plays on critical third downs," Harbaugh said. "He closed the game out."

Johnson has seen a lot in his nine years in the league. The Ravens are his seventh team during that span and sixth since 2012.

Johnson last started a game in 2011. He was a backup for four years in Tampa Bay after being drafted by the Buccaneers in the fifth round of the 2008 draft – the same year Joe Flacco was drafted.

Asked whether he felt he was pushing for the No. 2 job, Johnson simply said that's up to the coaches to determine.

"I'm just taking it one day at a time, one play at a time," he said. "No matter what the situation, no matter what the circumstance, I just control what I can control in the opportunities that are given. And just be a leader."

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