Safety Karl Joseph and the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be the perfect match. Joseph suited up as a part of the active squad for the first time as a Steeler last week and although he’s not expected to be a major contributor at safety, his connection with the Steelers has gone on for years now.
Joseph was selected with the 14th overall pick back in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Raiders. The Steelers were heavily linked to the West Virginia product throughout the pre-draft process and were once again when he hit free agency the past two off-seasons.
After signing with his former squad Raiders this past offseason, he was released just before the season began in late August. Needing some safety depth, the Steelers swooped in and finally got their man by signing Joseph a day later to their practice squad. The 28-year-old safety talked about the transition from being a first-round pick to being on a practice squad.
”It’s definitely a change, of course. You know, being at the high of being a first-rounder to being here where it’s got to work,” Joseph said Wednesday after team practice. “I’m embracing it. Forcing me to get better, not only physically, but mentally.”
The tough transition would be difficult for any player, but Joseph did see a few snaps last week against the Broncos. As for his role down the road, he should be a key special teams contributor as well as a mentor to young guys in the defensive backs room like Tre Norwood and James Pierre.
“I got to stay locked in and stay ready and keep working. My role right now is to help my teammates get better on the field and just get myself ready as well for when my opportunity [comes] or my name gets called.”
Joseph is in his sixth NFL season and has 49 starts under his belt at the safety position. He’s accumulated 303 combined tackles and five interceptions in his tenures with the Raiders and Browns. If an injury were to occur to either Terrell Edmunds or Minkah Fitzpatrick, Joseph would play a key role in helping pick up the slack defensively and his preparation should have Steelers fans feeling confident in the backups.