Could Raiders’ Karl Joseph be in store for a big season? Here’s why it could happen

Oakland Raiders safety Karl Joseph says he knows he hasn’t reached his full potential.

Maybe the Raiders showed they feel the same by not picking up Joseph’s fifth-year option, meaning he can become a free agent after this season.

That’s OK for the former West Virginia star who was a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

“I have to prove myself,” Joseph said. “I don’t think any year should be more important than another one. Come in, prove myself and earn the starting job and just get better.”

Last season, Joseph played in 13 games and started eight, finishing with a career-low 48 tackles. He had two pass deflections and two sacks.

And now he’s getting pushed by among others 2019 first-round pick Johnathan Abram.

Oakland Raiders defensive back Johnathan Abram (24) and safety Karl Joseph (42) take part in a drill during NFL football minicamp Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Alameda, Calif. Eric Risberg AP

Raiders coach Jon Gruden said he likes Joseph’s attitude and work ethic during organized team activities and mandatory mini-camp.

“He’s responded good,” he said. “He had all the rookies over at his house. He’s quietly becoming a leader here on this team.”

Joseph said having the rookies over at his house is his way of “have a little fun” and bringing a bond.

“Barbecue and stuff like that,” he said. “It’s just about getting better every day. Be a leader by the way that I come in every day with my attitude and my work ethic, something they can see. I’m trying to lead by example.”

Abram said he appreciates what Joseph is doing, especially at the practice field.

“I’ll have to admit it is pretty fun,” Abram said. “We challenge each other to see who is going to get to the ball first. I tell him all the time he’s not a better tackler than me. I look forward to going out there every single week, starting out in training camp, making each other better.”

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Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Oakland Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.