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4th Redskins QB starter of season prepped with ‘Madden NFL’

December 10, 2018
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Washington Redskins quarterback Josh Johnson (8) talks with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, right, after an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON (AP) — This is what it’s come to for the Washington Redskins: Their fourth quarterback of a once-promising, now-lost season, Josh Johnson, will be making his first NFL start since 2011 and spent time playing the “Madden NFL” video game to try to pick up something about his new teammates.

“I learned their names, first and foremost,” Johnson said with a smile.

He will be playing the most important position on the field next Sunday when the Redskins, who have gone from 6-3 and first place in the NFC East to 6-7 thanks to a four-game losing streak, play at the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9), who might be the most disappointing team in the entire league.

Between Washington’s Johnson and Jacksonville’s Cody Kessler, the two QBs have a combined career mark of 1-14 as NFL starters. Johnson is 0-5 and hadn’t even thrown a pass in a game in seven years until coming in to replace Mark Sanchez in the second half of Washington’s 40-16 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.

“I’ve been a fourth-stringer, a third-stringer. I’ve been so many other things,” the 32-year-old Johnson said.

He’s been signed and discarded by nearly half of the league: The Redskins are the 13th team that’s brought him in, although only the second for which he actually was allowed to attempt a throw in a regular-season game (Tampa Bay was the other).

So why has he bounced around so much with little game time to show for it?

“He can be hot and cold throwing the ball. He can throw a great ball, then throw one in the dirt, then throw a great ball,” coach Jay Gruden said. “The (inconsistency), probably, is what people see.”

In Washington, Johnson essentially is the backup to the backup’s backup.

Sanchez only got to start against New York because Colt McCoy broke his right leg during the prior game; McCoy was starting only because Alex Smith broke HIS right leg two games before that.

Add it all up, and Johnson’s is Gruden’s No. 4 starting QB in a span of five games.

Johnson was signed last Wednesday; a week before facing the Giants, he was playing in a charity basketball event at home in California.

“It was a good test for my cardio,” Johnson said. “I actually got my body ready.”

Entering Sunday after the score was 40-0, he went 11 for 16 for 195 yards, with a 79-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder and one interception against the Giants.

Johnson also ran seven times for 45 yards with a TD.

“Josh came in and provided a spark with his legs a little bit, avoided some pressure, moved around, got to the second, third progressions on a few throws, despite just getting here,” Gruden said. “So I was impressed with his poise, mostly, and his ability to maneuver in the pocket.”

NOTES: Gruden said TE Jordan Reed, who leads the team in catches and receiving yards, could be done for the season because of a strained toe muscle. “We’ll see if it’s one week, two weeks or the rest of the year,” Gruden said. “We’re not sure yet.” ... WR Josh Doctson is in the concussion protocol. ... LB Shaun Dion Hamilton has a shoulder injury. ... Gruden declined to address a report that Smith has had multiple operations on his leg, saying: “I cannot confirm anything right now. I told you I was going to be hush-hush on this deal until Alex was ready to talk about it.”

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