Del Rio Expected to Make Changes on Oakland's Defense

Raiders head coach indicates top draft pick Karl Joseph will get the start at safety against Titans Sunday

Karl Joseph is going to get his shot.

The Raiders’ No. 1 draft pick this spring, who has played only on special teams the first two games, is expected to start this Sunday’s game in Tennessee against the Titans.

Oakland’s pass defense has been shaky in its first two games, a win over New Orleans and this past Sunday’s loss to Atlanta, and ranks last in the NFL.

Oakland gave up 528 total yards to the Falcons and 507 to the Saints. The defense is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 71.1 percent of their passes and is giving up an average of 8 yards per play.

Joseph is expected to start in Week No. 3 in place of Keith McGill, the starter against the Saints and Falcons.

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio told the media he thought about inserting Joseph into the game against the Falcons, but decided against it.

“Keith struggled,” Del Rio told reporters Monday, according to Jimmy Durkin of the Bay Area News Group. “He had some struggles yesterday and certainly opened the door for Karl to get in there, but we didn’t pull the trigger on it. I’d like to see him get his opportunity to get in the game, starting this week.”

Del Rio, looking for solutions to the defensive problems so far in 2016, also indicated rookie Cory James could get the start over Ben Heeney at middle linebacker.

“I think if you don’t make plays and you’re in there, you leave the door open for other guys to get opportunities to play,” Del Rio said. “At the end of the day we’re just looking for production.”

Del Rio says he and his coaching staff have been intent on working Joseph slowly into the system, but believe the time is now to get him on the field.

“He’s had a little time to continue to develop himself physically and mentally,” Del Rio said. “He’s been working hard. He’s champing at the bit, so yeah, he’s been doing what he can do. He’s been working hard at practice.”

Sunday’s kickoff for the game between the 1-1 Raiders and 1-1 Titans is set for 10 a.m. in the Bay Area.

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