Dolphins K Greg Joseph out to win open competition with Jason Sanders

Greg Joseph once kicked as a hobby. Now he’s got a shot at the NFL. (Andres Leiva/The Post)

DAVIE — Many times throughout his life, Greg Joseph could’ve simply brushed kicking aside. Given how much of an afterthought it was to him at certain points, it’s a bit of an upset that he’s put himself in position to win a job with the Dolphins as he heads into Organized Team Activities this week.

Joseph was born in Johannesburg, 8,000 miles from the nearest NFL team, and spent most of his childhood on soccer fields. He moved to West Boca at age 7 and remained submerged in soccer, only picking up football heading into his final year at American Heritage School in Delray Beach because coach Stacy Sizemore talked him into it.

“Heritage was a big football school, so if you’re on the football team, it was kind of a cool gig,” Joseph said. “It was very fun. It was appealing because I’m a competitor and I actually had to compete for the job.

“I could kick a ball far, but that doesn’t mean it was going through the uprights. Changing the form from soccer to football was a big step. I can’t say I was good at all. And when I look back four years from now, hopefully I’m saying right now I wasn’t good. Hopefully I keep growing.”

Even after success at American Heritage, he had to claw his way onto Florida Atlantic’s team as a walk-on and didn’t give serious consideration to becoming a professional kicker until nearly the end of his junior year with the Owls.

The way he describes that epiphany now sounds nonchalant, but it was a turning point in terms of dedicating himself fully to the craft.

“I was kicking just to help out my team; I love my guys at FAU,” he said. “Towards the end of junior year, I kind of realized it was a possibility. I earned a scholarship. I was busting my butt. If I’ve come this far, why not give it a shot?”

Joseph now has the chance to turn what was once a hobby into high-paying career as he begins what will likely be a three-month audition with Miami. He’s in as good of a position as any rookie kicker can be, facing a one-on-one battle with seventh-round pick Jason Sanders of New Mexico as the Dolphins look to replace Cody Parkey.

Based on how they’ve handled things the last two years thanks to the NFL relaxing its preseason roster rules, they probably won’t decide between the two until shortly before the September cutdown deadline.

With no veteran incumbent in the mix, there will be an open competition between Sanders and Joseph. Sanders, the 229th selection out of 256 total picks, has no upper hand, and their college stats were comparable.

While neither posted overwhelming numbers in their collegiate careers, both impressed special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi in pre-draft workouts.

“A lot of people don’t want to hear this, but when you look at a college placekicker, one of the last things I look at is field goal percentage,” Rizzi said. “It’s completely different than the NFL. I can sit here for hours and talk about the guys and give you examples.”

Joseph hit 70 percent of his 82 field goal attempts at FAU, while Sanders made 71 percent on 35 tries. Both were very strong on kickoffs as well, according to Rizzi.

Rizzi, by the way, was the only NFL coach to put Joseph through a workout leading up to the draft and volunteered some helpful tips during that meeting in Boca Raton.

Joseph spent the last several months training and did some of that work in Jupiter with Parkey, who signed with Chicago as a free agent in March. That helped him tremendously, and he still refers back to some of the pointers he got in those sessions.

“A lot of mindset advice, and he did help me out with my form because he’s experienced and he’s seen a lot in his time in the NFL,” Joseph said. “I took all of it to heart and I wrote it down.”

One similarity between the two appears to be their mentality, though Joseph has yet to get the opportunity to prove he can maintain it under the pressure of kicking in an NFL game. Both players emphasize an absolute concentration on routine, which is something Rizzi often praised about Parkey.

The machinelike process is what attracted the Dolphins to Parkey in the first place, and it’s something they noticed about Joseph as well. That kind of disposition is reassuring to the coaching staff, and maintaining that outlook will help Joseph as he tries to secure his spot. It comes out in listless clichés, but it’s exactly how Rizzi wants him thinking.

“I’m gonna be kind of boring to you guys,” Joseph said. “I’m coming in here with the mindset that I’m putting my head down and working and worrying about what I can control. I can’t control what (Sanders) does. I’m just gonna do what I can.”

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