Safety Karl Joseph
Karl Joseph hasn't put on a set of football pads and tackled anyone since early October of last year, but thankfully for him – and the Oakland Raiders – that period is about to come to an end.
After tearing his ACL during his final season as a West Virginia Mountaineer, the Raiders' first-round draft pick has been forced to rehab and watch his teammates go through the Offseason Workout Program from either the gym or the sidelines. Joseph is confident that he'll be ready to go in just over two weeks when the Silver and Black report to training camp in Napa, Calif – something Head Coach Jack Del Rio alluded to on the final day of Minicamp.
"Yeah, that's the goal," said Joseph after participating in a recent Play 60 Character Camp at the team's Alameda, Calif., facility. "We're working towards it right now. We still have some time, and I'm feeling good, looking good, getting better every day, so we just have to keep taking those steps, getting better every day, every week and we'll see what happens when camp starts and we'll start getting in there trying to work in with those guys."
The rehabilitation journey has been a long one for Joseph, and he did admit that he's grown frustrated at times through the process – particularly since the injury is the first serious one he's ever had.
"It's very hard," Joseph said. "it's definitely frustrating for me at times, just out there watching practice, especially when guys make plays and it looks like everybody's having fun. I love football. This is what I've been doing my whole life – it's hard, especially going through my first injury and being out of it. It makes you appreciate it a lot more, but I'm just looking on the positive side. I'm close, closer than I was yesterday or last week to getting back on the field, so we just have to keep getting better."
While Joseph hasn't officially taken the field yet as a member of the Silver and Black, he's managed to make an impression on defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. throughout his short time in the Bay Area.
"You see in the film, the guy is explosive," Norton said. "He loves ball. He's around the football a lot. He's a pack of dynamite. He's a really good football player. The more good football players you get on the team, the better you get. Anytime you have a first-round draft pick, you expect an impact player. We expect him to be that."
And although he has been sidelined, Joseph has been taking the proper steps to ensure that he's ready to be an impact player as soon as he gets back on the field. He's spent as much time as he can in the playbook, and has made sure that he's been a willing pupil as far as the mental part of the game is concerned.
"That's more important than anything," Joseph explained. "The mental part of the game is more important than physical. I'm definitely trying to take everything in, especially since I'm already behind with all those guys that know everything going on, so I'm trying to take – especially this summer – trying to take this downtime and get in the playbook and understand the defense."
Throughout his career in Morgantown, Joseph was known for and applauded for his big hits, consistently punishing receivers who came across the middle, and the dynamic rookie is anxiously awaiting the time he can put the pads back on and return to roaming the secondary.
"I can't wait to put pads back on and just get out there and compete with those guys," Joseph said. "That's when I feel like everything will go back to normal, once I get that hit out. It feels like it's been so long. It's been a long time, man. I'm just ready and anxious to get back out there."