Lions safety Kerby Joseph garnering respect around the league as a ballhawk

Kerby Joseph wants to make impact plays, but his lack of opportunities so far this season is seen as a sign of the respect he has already earned.

In his one full season as a defensive back at Illinois, Kerby Joseph had five interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He followed that with four interceptions as an NFL rookie for the Detroit Lions last season, highlighted by three interceptions of Aaron Rodgers.

Joseph missed two games earlier this season, but in five games he has played thus far he does not have an interception. But, via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News as Week 8 approaches, he knows he can't force the issue.

"I feel like you just got to make every opportunity count," Joseph said. "You know what I mean? You can't force plays. You got to allow plays to come to you. The moment you start forcing plays, that's when you start messing up and not doing your job."

Lions defensive backs coach Brian Duker noted a reason Joseph doesn't have an interception yet this season.

"I just don’t think there’s been a lot of throws in the air through the middle of our defense necessarily for those guys to get their hands on," Brian Duker said. "If you do a really good job just to turn the throw, based on your positioning, the respect they give you, sometimes you don’t get those opportunities."

It's fair to say opposing quarterbacks aren't eager to test Joseph, knowing the kind of ballhawk he is. He's allowing a 59.1 passer rating in his coverage this season, via Pro Football Reference, so there's merit to avoiding him even though he does not have an interception yet.

Kerby Joseph may get off the interception schneid on Monday night

It's a matter of time before Joseph gets his first interception this season. That time could very well be Monday night against the Raiders, who have thrown a league-high 12 interceptions this season. Jimmy Garoppolo will return to action after missing a game, and he has thrown a tied for league-high eight interceptions in his five games this season.

The Raiders should be throwing the ball plenty on Monday night. Based on sheer opportunity volume, Joseph has a good chance to get his hands on an errant throw from Garoppolo and break his proverbial interception seal for 2023.


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