The Oakland Raiders drafted safety Karl Joseph 14th overall in May's 2016 NFL Draft to be a defensive playmaker, yet he didn't see the field on defense for the first two games.
Joseph tore his ACL during practice in week three of his senior season at West Virginia and was held out during the Raiders offseason workouts before seeing the field for the first time when training camp opened up in Napa in July.
After a poor start to the season for the Raiders defense, head coach Jack Del Rio decided it was time for a change and inserted the rookie into the starting lineup alongside veteran Reggie Nelson.
Del Rio liked what he saw out of his rookie safety, who led the Raiders with ten tackles.
"My eyes told me that he did some good things," Del Rio said after the game. "I'm sure there will be things that weren't perfect, but I thought he gave us throughout the whole week and the way we played, I thought he gave us a little of a spark having him in."
Joseph admitted to having some nerves heading out there for the first couple of series, but quickly remembered it's just the same game that he's been playing for most of his life.
"I was definitely a little nervous out there for the first couple of drives," Joseph said after his defensive debut. "But when the drives started going, it started slowing down and I started getting a little bit more comfortable."
The young defensive back made sure to stick to his assignment, looking to avoid any rookie mistakes.
"I wasn't trying to do too much or anything extra, I was just worried about doing my job. If everyone does there jobs, it shows how tough we can be on defense."
His fellow defensive back Sean Smith like what he saw from the young player, especially his physicality.
"Karl was coming up hitting," Smith said. "I was surprised, being so small, that he was throwing his body in there at those big backs they've got. I think he came in, he played fast, he was loud, made all his calls. I was happy for him."
Joseph knows the Raiders are depending on him, and wants to prove their high draft pick right.
"I think they drafted me because of my personality as well," he said. "I'm a leader, a natural lead, so I just want to go out there, do my job and get the guys to spark it up, stay focused the whole time we're on the field."null