When the Raiders began training camp, they hoped that No. 1 pick Karl Joseph would make steady progress and be ready to start by Game 1 of the regular season.
Joseph, the former West Virginia safety, was coming off knee surgery and rehabilitation and was expected to be healthy to make a bid for a starting spot, but there were no guarantees. A setback with the knee could be costly.
But Joseph has been picking up steam and now appears on track to be both completely healthy and fit and ready to start in the season opener Sept. 11 in New Orleans vs. the Saints.
Joseph has started both exhibition games. He played nine snaps against the Cardinals in Game 1 and 21 snaps against the Packers this past week.
Joseph, in fact, is feeling more comfortable in the Oakland defense and likes his physical and mental progress.
“It’s getting better,” he told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “I’ve seen consistent progresss in the way I’ve been able to move. There was progress from Week 1 to Week 2, and I’m looking to take an even bigger jump this third game.”
The Raiders will take on the Tennessee Titans this Saturday night in Oakland.
When the Raiders drafted Joseph, one of the things they pointed to was Joseph’s ability to make an impact in the secondary as a ferocious hitter. Against the Packers, he showed what he can do on one play on Green Bay’s opening drive, when he popped big Packers running back Eddie Lacy on a goal-line play to keep him from getting in the end zone.
“On that first drive, I was telling myself, ‘I need to feel it again,’ ” Joseph told McDonald. “That hit felt good.”
Joseph says veteran safety Reggie Nelson, expected to be the other starter at safety, has been a huge help in his transition to the NFL.
“Just watching him and playing with him and knowing he’s right next to me is giving me confidence,” Joseph told a writer with the team’s website recently. “It elminates a lot of mistakes on my part as well, just because he knows what he’s doing. Watching him helps a lot.”