ALAMEDA -- It’s been hard for Karl Joseph to watch the Raiders defense struggle without being asked to help. The first-round safety hasn’t played a defensive snap yet, largely in deference to surprise starter Keith McGill.
“As a competitor, I don’t like being on the sideline,” Joseph said Tuesday. “I want to be out there with the team, making plays and helping the Raiders win. It definitely hurts to not be out there.”
Time to watch and learn is now over. Head coach Jack Del Rio said Joseph will play on defense Sunday against the Tennessee Titans as the Raiders tinker with the lineup some in an attempt to play better defense.
That unit has allowed 1,035 yards and 69 points over the first two games. McGill didn’t help matters in a home loss to the Atlanta Falcons, and created a crack Joseph hopes to break through and become the every-down starter.
Joseph said he and McGill will split practice reps this week, with playing time yet to be determined.
Joseph was the first-unit strong safety during training camp and the preseason, despite being less than a year removed from ACL surgery that kept him out of the offseason program.
The Raiders chose to bring Joseph along slowly, while his scheme knowledge improved and he regained burst and power in his recently repaired knee. Joseph believes he’s ready for significant responsibility, but understands that patience could outline a proper course.
“The coaches and I talked about it,” Joseph said. “In the preseason, they wanted to get me some reps to get used to it. It wasn’t anything I was mad about. I used it as motivation, to show them I was ready to play. I just had to stay ready.”
Joseph also wanted to show growth and inspire confidence that he could play well when given a green light.
“Every week I’m making progress learning the defense and being able to see everything well,” he said. “My health is improving every week as well, and my confidence is up. I’ve felt like I was ready. As a competitor, you have to feel like that. I don’t like being on the sideline. I’m dying to play.
“…My mindset has been to stay ready. Whenever I get my opportunity, I need to make the most of it.”