The Oakland Raiders used the 14th overall pick in last month's NFL Draft to select West Virginia's safety Karl Joseph who they hope will step in and fill the huge shoes left vacant after future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson decided to retire.
Joseph is a hard-hitting safety with big play capabilities, but is coming off of an ACL tear during his senior year at West Virginia.
“It was hard, mainly so because it was my senior year and knowing that I wouldn’t be able to go out there with my teammates," Joseph said at Friday's rookie minicamp practice. "So, that was hard for me, but God always has a plan. I am just happy that everything worked out the way it did and now I’m here, so I couldn’t be any happier.”
The young safety is still rehabbing his knee, keeping him off of the field as the rest of the rookies took their talents to the field for the Raiders rookie minicamp this week. But the Raiders knew this would be the case, stating he would be ready for training camp all along. Instead of playing football, Joseph is spending his tie at the facility getting himself in shape and taking mental reps.
"The meetings that [Karl’s] involved in, we’re still able to walk it and talk it so we’re doing some of that," head coach Jack Del Rio said Friday. "All of the players that are mending will continue to work hard and do the things that they’re able to do with [Head Strength and Conditioning Coach] Joe [Gomes] and with [Head Athletic Trainer] Rod [Martin] to get themselves back. It’s definitely valuable time to have. We don’t get enough time with these guys and we’ve got to maximize the time we do get and be really efficient with it.”
For someone that loves the game as football as much as Joseph does, it isn't easy to be held off the field.
“It’s tough, just not being able to go out there and practice and learn the stuff, but I am still learning in meeting rooms," Joseph said. "Right now, I am just focusing on rehabbing and getting healthy.”
Though he hasn't had the opportunity to officially throw the Silver & Black jersey on, he's got some big shoes to fill after his coach picked #42 for him, the jersey previously worn by Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott.
“It’s an honor," Joseph said of his new number. "I didn’t actually get to handpick it. Coach Del Rio actually picked it, but I told him that was one of the numbers that I was actually thinking about. So, it’s just an honor. I am just going to try to represent as best as I can.”