Allen Park — Kerby Joseph isn’t a gambler, so he didn’t have any interest in discussing the league’s gambling policy.
He also didn’t object to Jameson Williams’ six-game suspension handed out by the league in April for placing bets, nor did he offer an excuse for his teammate’s actions.
But still, following Thursday’s OTAs in Allen Park, there was no mistaking where Joseph’s support lies. He spelled it out in big red letters on a white T-shirt with Williams’ face on it: “FREE JAMO.”
“The shirt really just says, I’m glad Jamo is still out here working with us,” Joseph explained following Thursday’s OTAs.
“He knows what he did, but he’s trying to get better. And he wants to get better. We want to get better. We’re gonna grow from it, and we’re gonna learn from it. This is just supporting my guy, my dog Jamo, man. That’s all it is.”
Asked if it was commentary on “the rule itself,” Joseph replied, “Nah, ain’t none of that. It’s just — I love my dog. My dog out here still practicing, going hard, wanting to get better. That’s all.”
Joseph was last seen running out of Lambeau Field on “Sunday Night Football” with Aaron Rodgers’ last pass as a member of the Green Bay Packers, which he still has (in an undisclosed location).
Rodgers was Joseph’s favorite player on his favorite team growing up, so he tried to be respectful when talking about the future Hall-of-Famer’s departure to New York and whether, as some have suggested, Detroit’s season-ending win at Green Bay had anything to do with it.
“He’s gonna do what he do. I’m gonna do what I do,” Joseph said calmly, before stepping away in a fit of laughter and a quip about somebody trying to start something.
At least for now, the relationship has ended with Joseph having the upper hand. In addition to the fate-sealing pick, Joseph got Rodgers twice earlier in a rookie season that included four total interceptions, 82 tackles, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Despite showing good ball-hawking skills in his first season, he wanted to get better.
“I wanted to improve my anticipation a lot. As a safety, as a defender, you gotta anticipate what the offense is gonna do and incorporate that into your work,” Joseph said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to do. Just learning concepts and just learning how to play fast.”
He was just one member of a highly productive 2022 class that helped the Lions, the youngest team in the NFL last year, close the season on an 8-2 stretch. After seeing the fruits of its labor, Detroit’s defense was rewarded with the additions of three key veterans in the secondary.
“The expectation raises, but the knowledge raises also,” Joseph said. “The whole room is learning from everybody, so it’s just an abundant amount of information that you can take and use while you’re on the field.
“That’s the biggest thing we wanted to fix this year is just communication. Overcommunicate…making quick adjustments, or whatever you gotta do to be on the same page.”
He added: “I remember last year, OTAs was kind of frantic. Now it’s more calm. Now we’re practicing like pros.”
There is one part of Joseph’s game that will not be carried into 2023: His famous backflip celebration.
“They said no more backflips…so (I’m gonna) stay on the ground,” Joseph said. “But I’m gonna always still turn up though.”