NAPA — Raiders first-round pick Karl Joseph might not play when the team opens its preseason schedule Friday at Arizona.
Joseph, a projected starting safety and the team’s No. 14 overall pick, said Tuesday that the plan is to be cautious as he returns from October surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
“We’ve still got a couple days, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t play in the first preseason game or two,” Joseph said. “It’s nothing to worry about. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to make sure I’m fully 100 percent ready to go for that first game.”
Joseph tore his ACL during his senior season at West Virginia and missed all of the offseason program before returning for training camp. He’s participated in nine of the 10 practices in Napa, missing last Thursday’s as a preventative measure.
“The goal is to be ready for Sundays,” Joseph said. “I definitely would like to get some preseason action, but it’s going to be a day-to-day thing to see how the knee’s feeling and everything.”
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, while not speaking specifically about Joseph, said he’ll aim to delicately balance getting his team prepared with ensuring they are fresh when the team opens the regular season Sept. 11 in New Orleans.
“You’re always balancing the work you’d like to get in with the fresh, healthy guy that opens the season and has a healthy, productive season,” Del Rio said. “We’ll battle that like we all do around the league. We have a plan going in, and we’ll adjust it as we need to.”
Joseph has stepped right in to first-team repetitions since joining the team for the start of training camp. He said he feels up to speed mentally with what he’s being asked to do.
“Me being out there during the OTAs and taking the mental reps and being in the film room definitely helped as well,” Joseph said. “I wasn’t too far behind.”
But purely from a physical standpoint, Joseph is pleased with the coaching staff’s plan to take it slow considering his hasn’t played in a game in more than 10 months.
“They’re just doing a good job controlling it,” Joseph said. “Obviously it’s hard just going back into it and going hard every day like that so they’re doing a good job controlling it, getting me some much-needed rest, some days off.”