Raiders' Karl Joseph hopes to make name for himself in a familiar number

Karl Joseph is still rehabbing an injury to his right knee that limited him to four games his senior season at West Virginia. Stacy Revere/Getty Images

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- No pressure, kid.

All your coach did was assign you Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott's jersey No. 42 as the Oakland Raiders' first-round draft pick, so all Karl Joseph has to do is produce.


“There have been a few good ones in that number,” said Raiders coach Jack Del Rio.

Joseph, who is still rehabbing an injury to his right knee that limited him to four games his senior season at West Virginia, has to practice first and training camp in Napa in late July is still the target.

So it was no surprise that Joseph was not on for the field for this past weekend’s rookie minicamp at the team facility.

“We got him here as quickly as we could, with all the rookies and Karl in particular,” Del Rio said. “The meetings that he’s involved in, we’re still able to walk it and talk it so we’re doing some of that.”

Del Rio said Joseph would continue to work with head strength and conditioning coach Joe Gomes and head athletic trainer Rod Martin in the interim.

“It’s definitely valuable time to have,” Del Rio added. “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.”

Despite only playing in four games for the Mountaineers last fall, Joseph had five interceptions with three coming in one game, against Georgia Southern. So, in a way, he is a Lott-type player, a ferocious hitter with soft hands.

But Lott, who spent the 1991 and 1992 seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders and was a Pro Bowler with eight interceptions that first season, was significantly bigger.

Joseph is generously listed as being 5-foot-10, 205 pounds and has been more favorably compared to more recent vintage undersized safeties as Earl Thomas and Bob Sanders.

“There are a lot of different guys,” Joseph said. “There are a lot of old-school guys that I loved watching -- Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins, guys like that. I like the way Earl Thomas plays and Tyrann Mathieu, those guys like that. They are very versatile with what they can do. They can do it all over the field.”

And about that Sanders talk?

“I hear that a lot, probably more so with the size and how physical we are,” Joseph said of the 5-8, 200-pound Sanders with a laugh. “Yeah, he was definitely a baller, though.”

But until Joseph is cleared to get on the field, his football work will all be done in a classroom.

And new Raiders outside linebacker Bruce Irvin, who also played at West Virginia but before Joseph was there, has already played the role of mentor.

“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.

“The language and everything is different, different plays, but it’s not too hard at all, just getting everything down pat, but I am going to get it, though. ... Just rehab and taking all the mental reps and spending as much extra time as I can with coaches and learning everything.”

Then, we will all see Joseph rocking the number worn by the likes of Vance Mueller, Eric Turner, Terry Kirby and, oh yeah, Lott.

“It’s an honor,” said Joseph,” who wore No. 8 in college.

“I told [Del Rio] 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.”