ALAMEDA – Raiders strong safety Karl Joseph missed four straight games with a toe injury. That streak will end on Saturday in Houston.
The first-round rookie said he’ll return for the playoff opener against the Texans, something vital with his position group weakened by Nate Allen’s concussion.
It’s uncertain whether Allen will play. The veteran filled in well during three-plus games in Joseph’s starting spot, but the young starter said he’s ready to return.
“It’s been a long time battling through the injury, but it’s the playoffs,” Joseph said. “It’s win or go home, and we also might be down a safety, so it’s time to go. I’m still not 100 (percent), but I want to play. I don’t want to wait too long and all of a sudden it’s the offseason.”
Joseph injured his toe in a Week 13 victory over Buffalo and was down an extended stretch.
“I never thought about how serious the injury could be until I actually had it myself,” Joseph said. "It’s a pretty hard injury. As a defensive back you use your feet for everything.”
Joseph started practicing in a limited capacity last week, with a playoff return as the ultimate goal.
“It was tough for me to not be on the field,” Joseph said. “I want to play every snaps. But I will say I’m feeling a lot better than I have in previous weeks. I definitely feel like I’m ready to play well.”
The Raiders held Joseph back to start the season while recovering from ACL surgery, but the West Virginia alum played well once he took over in Week 3.
“It has been tough coming off the ACL surgery and then battling through this injury I’ve had the last couple weeks,” Joseph said. “It’s been an up and down year, but one things is that we’ve been winning and now we’re in the playoffs. I’m grateful for that and happy I’ll have a chance to get back out there.”