Kevin Fixler
    Sport Matters

27 December 2012

Lacking development league, many NFL hopefuls have few options

Before signing with the Cleveland Browns the day after Christmas due to a pair of injuries at the quarterback position, Josh Johnson treaded an uncertain path back to the NFL that was nearly a season long.

The day after Thanksgiving, instead of preparing for the next week’s opponent as a member of a team in the thick of the NFL playoff hunt, the free-agent was attending his Oakland, Calif., high school alma mater’s league championship game at a local community college.

Prior to that, the 26-year-old Johnson was ambling up and down the boundary of a field in Sacramento in street clothes for a United Football League game on a warm weekday evening in early October. Johnson, the marquee signee of the Mountain Lions franchise in the fledgling, four-team pro league, could only observe the Week 3 contest after seriously injuring his knee in the first game of the season. Like the rest of the undersized Wednesday night crowd, he watched as former Buffalo Bills reserve quarterback Brian Brohm tossed an 81-yard touchdown to lead the visiting Las Vegas Locomotives to a 20-9 victory.

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