Ravens sign veteran Chris Johnson to boost cornerback depth

November 13, 2012 | Luke Jones

With top cornerback Lardarius Webb already lost for the season and starter Jimmy Smith hampered with a groin injury, the Ravens boosted their secondary depth Tuesday with the signing of former Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson.

To make room on the 53-man roster, Baltimore placed rookie running back Bobby Rainey on injured reserve with a knee injury.

The 33-year-old Johnson was released in March after spending the last five seasons with the Oakland Raiders. He played in only four games last season before finishing the year on the non-football injury list as he dealt with the fatal shooting of his sister.

Johnson made 29 starts in his five-year run with Oakland, intercepting eight passes and and forcing three fumbles. The cornerback was originally drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the seventh round of the 2003 draft but didn’t make his NFL debut until 2005 with the St. Louis Rams.

With Smith’s status in question after he was unable to loosen up an injured groin to play in the 55-20 win over the Oakland Raiders in Week 10, the Ravens will likely elect to activate another cornerback against Pittsburgh this Sunday. Rookie Asa Jackson was the only cornerback on the 53-man roster not to be active against Oakland.

Nickel back Corey Graham started in Smith’s place and second-year corner Chykie Brown played in the team’s nickel package in Sunday’s win.

Rainey, an undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky, was inactive in his only three games on the 53-man roster. The pint-sized running back was waived at the start of the season after initially making the team but was then promoted from the practice squad following the season-ending injury to Webb in mid-October.

The team also announced the re-signing of quarterback Dennis Dixon to the practice squad and the release of safety Omar Brown.

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