NAPA – Karl Joseph has been a regular fixture in Raiders training camp practices. He may not, however, be ready to play a game.
The rookie safety’s still rebounding from major knee surgery, and there’s no reason to risk a setback in meaningless preseason games.
The goal, as it has been since the Raiders drafted Joseph No. 14 overall, is to get him physically and mentally prepped for the regular season.
That sound logic puts his status for Friday’s exhibition opener at Arizona in serious doubt, possibly the following week’s contest at Green Bay as well.
“The goal is being ready for September 11,” Joseph said after Tuesday’s practice. “I’m not really in a rush. Going out in practice definitely helps a lot.
“We’ll see how it goes – we still have a couple days – but I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t play the first preseason game or two. It’s nothing to worry about. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to make sure that I’m fully 100-percent ready to go for that first game.”
Joseph tore his ACL during a non-contact practice drill after four games played in his senior year at West Virginia. The Raiders expect a full recovery, but are playing it as safe as possible during the exhibition season.
“They’re doing a good job of controlling it and resting it,” Joseph said. “It’s hard getting back into it when you’re going hard every day, and they’ve allowed me to get some much-needed rest.
“There’s still a lot of treatment after practice, but it’s mainly about keep my strength up. That’s hard with the schedule we have during camp, but it’s important to keep it strong, get back in the motion and knock some of that rust off.”
Rust is hard to identify when Joseph’s on the practice field. He’s typically in the right spot, taking the right angles and making the right reads. That’s odd for a rookie, especially one who couldn’t practice during the offseason program.
“The first three days of pre-camp practices (before veterans reported) really helped me out a lot,” Joseph said. “I also worked with (secondary coach Marcus Robertson); we met during the offseason after the vets left and did a lot of classroom stuff. That definitely helped me, and so did being out there during the OTAs taking mental reps. Being in the film room a lot also helped. I wasn’t too far behind. Once I got out here, it was just football. That’s all about knowing your responsibility and doing your job.”
Joseph can only do his job when physically able. That’s the prime objective, though the young safety would like some game reps before they really count.
“We would like to get some preseason action,” Joseph said, “but it’s going to be a day-to-day thing as we see how the knee is feeling.”