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QB Josh Johnson signs with Detroit Lions, his 13th NFL team

The journeyman quarterback finds himself another NFL gig after an injury to a Lions backup.
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Josh Johnson must be one of those road warriors who wakes up some mornings and wonders, What city am I in? This weekend, the quarterback is doing the rise-and-shine in Detroit as a new member of the Detroit Lions -- his 13th NFL team. The signing on Saturday was necessitated by a head injury two nights earlier to Tom Savage, the backup to Matthew Stafford, in Detroit's preseason opener against the New England Patriots. That left David Fales, whose career regular season log lists three regular season games as a reserve with the Miami Dolphins, as the lone understudy.

Johnson, 33, apparently enjoys football, even if he doesn't get to actually play it much in real games. Drafted in the fifth round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008, he has participated in 33, eight as a starter.

The first five came as a Buccaneer. His team lost them all, and he has bounced around like a pinball ever since Tampa Bay cut ties. There have even been two stints with a pair of teams (Cincinnati Bengals, San Francisco 49ers).

Let's not overlook two gigs outside the NFL: the United Football League (UFL) and the Alliance of American Football (AAF).

Persistence pays, and there is no finer example than Johnson, who has a yawning four-year gap on his NFL resume. When Washington Redskins quarterbacks were felled by injuries late last season, he bubbled up as a starter for three games. The first, against the Jacksonville Jaguars, marked his lone win, 16-13. Then he went south, concluding with a shutout defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Anyone constantly on the move makes contacts, and Johnson might have scored a valuable one two years ago in Houston. Sean Ryan, then the Houston Texans quarterbacks coach, was hired for the role in Detroit this season.

(We interrupt with this trivia note: Johnson has worn three jersey numbers -- 11, 1 and 8.)

Stafford is durable, having started every game for eight consecutive seasons, so Johnson might never leave the bench, assuming he sticks. Yet, for a guy who clearly loves the sport, his next appearance is just an injury (to someone else) away.

Mike Tierney