Oswego HS alum Michael Joseph: Long-shot past to ‘help me mentally’ on Bears

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The Bears signed Michael Joseph to an undrafted free agent deal last week. (AP)

Michael Joseph barely played at Oswego High School, and had to beg to get a chance at Div. III Dubuque. The challenge of trying to make the Bears as an undrafted free agent, then, isn’t all that daunting.

“I know all the emotions that come with being on the bottom of the roster and feeling like you’re not moving up,” the cornerback said Friday. “But I also know the emotions of, as you’re moving up, feeling the joy of, ‘Finally, I’m in the starting lineup,’ or in the rotation, and making an impact with the team.

“I feel like that’ll help me mentally. A lot of people, they go from playing all the time and then go to not starting. Mentally, they might shut down, because this is not something they’ve been through.”

If Joseph has any edge against his competitors — LSU cornerback Kevin Toliver is a former five-star recruit, for example — it’s because he’s climbed the roster ladder before. Like Toliver, the 6-1, 187-pound Joseph has the size that coordinator Vic Fangio covets in an outside cornerback. Like Toliver, too, he’ll have to make the Bears by playing special teams.

“It’s just getting repetition and seeing how to do the things,” he said during the Bears’ rookie minicamp. “I feel like once you get moving and get going with the practices and get going with everything, it’ll be good.”

Considered a potential third-day draftee, Joseph was disappointed that he wasn’t selected, but was enticed by an opportunity with the team in his home state. At the Bears’ local pro day at Halas Hall before the draft, he connected with defensive backs coach Ed Donatell. That encounter pushed him toward wanting to sign with the Bears.

“He saw my ball skills on tape,” Joseph said. “He said it showed that I can take the ball away from the offense, and in this league, that’s big, taking the ball away from the offense. He saw that.

“He also liked the way I’m able to move in and out of my breaks. He felt like I should be a good fit in their scheme.”

Joseph will slot into the back of the position-drill line Tuesday — behind starters Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller, veterans Marcus Cooper and Bryce Callahan, and others — when the Bears start organized team activity practices. To make the team, he’ll have to prove Donatell’s instincts right over the next four months.

“It’s very sweet,” he said. “I grew up watching the Chicago Bears. My whole family and close friends are all Bears fans, so they’re all excited.

“I’m ready to get going and start playing and do my dream.”

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