ALAMEDA — Karl Joseph wasn’t down on himself Tuesday after the news came out that he was shifted to second-team safety on the Raiders’ depth chart for Sunday’s season-opener against the New Orleans Saints.
“I didn’t expect anything given to me,” Joseph told this newspaper. “I’ve just got to keep learning, keep getting better and keep growing as a player and everything else will fall in its place.
“I have a lot of confidence in myself and I have no doubt in myself that I’ll get my spot back.”
Veteran Nate Allen now is the listed starter at strong safety ahead of the Raiders’ first-round pick, who had held that spot since the initial depth chart was released Aug. 8.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio had hinted recently that Joseph had a ways to go.
“He’s still growing,” coach Jack Del Rio said of Joseph on Aug. 27 after the Raiders exhibition game against Tennessee. “He’s still competing for time, still developing. Remember, he missed the whole offseason. For a young guy, as far as getting reps, he was there mentally doing the best he could but it takes time. It takes reps and experience. He’s getting it on the run right now. He’ll continue to work on it.”
The Raiders drafted Joseph with the No. 14 pick from West Virginia with the idea that he’d step right in as a starter. But that was always taking the most optimistic approach as he returns from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that cost him most of his senior season of college.
“I don’t use that as an excuse,” said Joseph, who missed the whole offseason program rehabilitating from the injury. “I’ve still got to learn go in there, put in the extra time that some of the guys that have been here don’t have to.”
Joseph has learned that high expectations follow first-round picks wherever they go, but he says those aren’t weighing on him.
“(There’s) a lot of high expectations from the outside world, but it doesn’t phase me too much because of the expectations I put on myself,” Joseph said. “Everything else is just outside noise. I try to block it out and just try to stay focused, stayed grounded and just learn what I’ve got to do and do my job.”
Even if he doesn’t make the start Sunday in New Orleans, Joseph is excited to finally partake in his first NFL game whatever the role may be. His teammates have noticed that he’s ready to make his first real NFL hit.
“He’s been so anxious to hit,” free safety Reggie Nelson said last week. “I’ve been like, ‘Look here, you don’t hit like that in the league in practice, man. It’s mostly mental reps. They’re not going to let you just pounce on all these people. Everybody’s getting paid a lot of money and they ain’ t trying to get them hurt.’ He’s been anxious to hit. I was just glad to see him out there running around, having a little fun.”