After two years in the Canadian Football League, cornerback Josh Johnson is back in the NFL.
His challenge now is to prolong his stay.
Johnson made Jacksonville’s 53-man roster Saturday, beating out former Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall for the fifth and final cornerback spot. Johnson spent the 2013 preseason with San Diego before getting waived and landing with the BC Lions.
Now, he essentially has a four-week audition since the Jaguars probably will drop a cornerback when Aaron Colvin returns from suspension. Colvin is suspended the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
In the meantime, Johnson is on the team and about to collect the biggest paycheck of his life.
“Josh Johnson is a guy whose production has earned him to be on this team,” general manager Dave Caldwell said. “He’s around the ball. He makes plays on the ball when given the opportunity. Not only that but he’s been a sure tackler. He’s been a good blitzer. He can play both nickel inside for us and outside. And on special teams, he is an emergency returner for us.
“Nick is more of just an outside corner for us, and Josh brings a little bit more versatility for us.”
Marshall was one of 16 players waived as the Jaguars trimmed their roster to the NFL-mandated limit. Also cut: linebacker Thurston Armbrister, defensive tackle Richard Ash, defensive tackle T.J. Barnes, cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun, tight end Braedon Bowman, offensive lineman Kadeem Edwards, safety Josh Evans, receiver Shaq Evans, offensive tackle Rashod Hill, defensive end Tyrone Holmes, receiver Rashad Lawrence, linebacker Sean Porter, guard Pearce Slater, linebacker Jordan Tripp and receiver Shane Wynn.
Undrafted rookie safety Jarrod Wilson beat out Evans, a sixth-round pick in 2013 who started 37 games.
Jacksonville released four veterans: receiver Arrelious Benn, guard Mackenzy Bernadeau, linebacker Ryan Davis and guard Jacques McClendon. The Jags also placed defensive tackle Michael Bennett (calf) on injured reserve and officially put Colvin on the suspended list.
The Jaguars kept three quarterbacks, including rookie Brandon Allen. The former Arkansas starter and sixth-round draft pick will play behind Blake Bortles and Chad Henne this season and could supplant Henne as the primary backup in 2017.
“Since the Senior Bowl, he came in here in rookie minicamp and all through (organized team activities), and we kind of knew that he was going to be a guy that we were going to have to keep throughout the season,” Caldwell said.
Also of note, the Jaguars kept five running backs: Chris Ivory, T.J. Yeldon, Denard Robinson, Corey Grant and Joe Banyard. Banyard, who ran 11 times for 43 yards in the preseason finale at Atlanta, was the surprise of the group.
“He’s done a nice job on special teams, and he performed well in that last preseason game when he had a chance to run the ball,” Caldwell said.