The Oakland Raiders took the field at Redwood Middle School on Friday for their first training camp practice of the 2016 offseason. Included with the team was rookie safety Karl Joseph, who is expected to be a key piece of the rebuilt Raiders secondary.
The Raiders selected the West Virginia safety 14th overall hoping he can help fill the shoes of future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson who decided to hang up the cleats for a career in television.
Joseph has been unable to join his team since being drafted back in April due to a torn ACL that he suffered in week four of last season at West Virginia during a non-contact drill.
The young safety and his team eyed the start of training camp for his return which he was able to accomplish with his return on Friday.
"It was my goal and I'm just happy to be out there with the guys," Joseph said after Friday's practice.
The former Mountaineer said it was tough not being on the field with his teammates all offseason, but it did have its benefits.
"Having football taken away from me, it makes me appreciate the game much more," Joseph said.
Joseph wore a sleeve over his knee for Friday's practice but didn't appear to be limited at all. His cuts and movements were smooth and he appeared to be running well while in coverage and when coming up to the box to make a simulated tackle, all a sign that his rehab during the offseason went as well as expected.
Head coach Jack Del Rio liked what he saw from his young safety's first day and see's no reason to worry about the surgically-repaired knee.
He doesn’t show any signs of anything there,” Del Rio said Friday's practice. “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 from injury in terms of reps and things just to make sure we’re smart with them, but he’s ready to roll.”
Despite missing the offseason workouts, Joseph still wants to be the starting Raiders safety the moment they take the field for their week one matchup against the New Orleans Saints.
"That's been my goal from when I got here from day one," he said. "But I'm just taking it day to day."