As tough, hard-hitting safeties go, Ronnie Lott ranks among the best ever in the NFL.
The former Raiders and 49ers star played 14 seasons in the league and went to the Pro Bowl 10 times in a Hall of Fame career.
So when Lott praises Raiders’ second-year safety Karl Joseph, it carries some weight.
This week, in an interview on Raiders.com, Lott indicated he is excited about seeing what Joseph can do in 2017 at strong safety for Oakland. Now fully healthy after some nagging injuries during his rookie season, Joseph goes into training camp – set to open July 27 – as a player who could take a big step forward in Year 2.
Already, the 5-foot-10, 2015-pounder from West Virginia has shown he can be a devastating hitter and difference-maker in the Raiders secondary, just as Lott was in his career. The similarity goes far beyond the fact that both players have worn No. 42.
Said Lott: “I see a little Ronnie in Karl, and the reason I see it is that tenacity to get better, and his pursuit to the player (on the field).”
Joseph started his first pro season slowly after coming off a knee injury his final season in college, then was sidelined for four games late in 2016 with a toe injury. But this offseason, Joseph has been healthy and has participated fully in the team’s offseason work.
“I feel like night and day, really, from now to last year,” he recently said of the difference, when talking to Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. He not only knows the defensive scheme completely, but believes he can be stronger and more explosive in 2017.
“I’m more focused on football than injuries,” Joseph said.
Lott, 58, believes Joseph can make a much bigger impact in his second season.
Said Lott: “There is something spectacular when you see somebody going out, trying to be their best, and when I watch that young man and I watch him go out and try to find ways to separate people from the football, there’s something we all like about Karl and how he goes around and tries to attack the game.”