ALAMEDA – Karl Joseph hasn’t played a defensive snap yet this season. That’s about to change.
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said Monday this year’s first-round pick should see some action at strong safety Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.
The Raiders wanted to bring Joseph along slowly, giving him more time to catch up mentally and continue rebounding physically from ACL surgery that stole most of his senior season at West Virginia and the Raiders offseason program workouts.
He played extensively this preseason and generally practiced with the first unit, but the starting spot was given to Keith McGill. He played decent in the season opener, but struggled mightily against Atlanta.
It led many to wonder whether Joseph should’ve been inserted into the game.
“I think that’s a fair question to ask. I asked that question myself,” Del Rio said in his weekly press conference. “I really believed that he should have got in the game yesterday. We’ll make sure that he gets in the game going forward. I think it’s time to see Karl. I think you can anticipate him getting some action this week.”
It’s uncertain whether Joseph would start over McGill or Nate Allen, but he should get involved on defense. The secondary needs help and Joseph certainly has talent, physicality and coverage skills to help in areas of need.
He has had a few extra weeks to prepare, which should help him out. He’ll also get second-year Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota, an easier matchup than veterans Drew Brees or Matt Ryan.
“He’s had a little time to continue to develop himself, physically and mentally,” Del Rio said. “He’s been working hard. He’s chomping at the bit. He’s been doing what he can do. He’s been working hard in practice. He’s been working hard in the weight room, doing a little extra with (head strength and conditioning coach Joe Gomes), doing a little extra with the trainers. He’s been on top of it. He’s doing the things he needs to do.”
Giving Joseph a chance is warranted considering McGill hasn’t taken a stranglehold on the strong safety spot. McGill was targeted six times and allowed six catches for 98 yards. He also had a missed tackle.
“Quite frankly, I came out of the game yesterday saying, ‘Why didn’t we get him in?,’” Del Rio said. “Keith struggled. He had some struggles yesterday and certainly opened the door for Karl to get in there, but we didn’t pull the trigger on it. I’d like to see him get his opportunities to get in the game starting this week.”