The Raiders insisted when Karl Joseph was drafted that they expected him to be ready for training camp. Still, it’s never a given when a player is rehabbing from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Alas, when camp opened up Friday at the Napa Valley Marriott, there was No. 42 roaming around the defensive backfield for the Raiders in his first full-team practice.
“This is what I’ve been working for since I got here so it feels great to finally get out there with all the veterans,” Joseph said. “It was a great first day.”
Coach Jack Del Rio said they’ll monitor Joseph just like they’ll keep an extra eye on any players returning from injury, but they aren’t concerned about him from a physical standpoint.
“He doesn’t show any signs of anything there,” Del Rio said. “I feel good about the rehab he’s gone through and the work he’s put in. We’ll monitor all the guys that are returning form injury in terms of reps and things just to make sure we’re smart with them, but he’s ready to roll.”
Joseph said it was a nice relief for him to make it back as he hoped and he’s grateful to just be back playing football again.
“That was our goal with the training staff and the coaching staff,” Joseph said of the training camp return. “They did a great job of watching the reps I took and working during this summer. It was my goal and I’m just happy to be able to go out there with the guys.
“This is what I’ve been doing my whole life. Just having football taken away from me makes me appreciate the game a lot more. I would get frustrated during OTAs watching the guys out there not being able to go out there and compete with them. I’m just happy and blessed to be able to come back out on the field.”
Joseph participated with the first-team defense. The team isn’t in pads performing contact drills yet, so it’ll take some time to get a feel for how he’ll play with the defense. But he’s got an eye on the starting job and it would seem likely he’ll be on the first-team when the Raiders open the season Sept. 11 in New Orleans.
“We think he’s a good football player,” Del Rio said. “We’re going to throw him right in and let him compete. We expect him to grow every day.”