The Las Vegas Raiders have one of the best punters in the NFL, and in 2022, they need AJ Cole to continue to move in the right direction.
For the 2022 Las Vegas Raiders, the specialists do not figure to be an issue, as Trent Sieg, AJ Cole, and Daniel Carlson are one of the best young duos in the NFL. These three players took a major step forward last season, and this year, both Cole and the punt return game being elite will be crucial to the team’s success.
Consistent AJ Cole, Punt Return game key to Raiders success
What do Dwayne Harris and Jacoby Ford have in common?
A few things actually, but two specifically. One, Harris and Ford are the last two players to score a special teams touchdown via the return game for the Raiders. Two, Dwayne Harris has been a free agent since 2020 and Ford hasn’t been on an NFL roster since 2015.
Harris last saw regular playing time for the Raiders in 2018–coincidentally, 2018 was also the last year LV registered a special teams return for a touchdown.
Harris returned a punt 99 yards, the second-longest in NFL history, for a score against the Denver Broncos during week 16 on Christmas eve. Ford, on the other hand, left an even bigger imprint in LV. The speedy 5-foot-9 return man set the record for the most kickoffs returned for touchdowns with four.
Ford is eighth on the Raiders’ all-time kickoff return leaders with 75 returns for a 25-yard average. The fact that nobody else in the top 10 has more than one touchdown illustrates how difficult it is to take a kick back to the crib.
Though the return game needs a boost, you can always count on the defensive end to hold up their end of a deal with a reliable punt game. Let’s take a closer look at these three units.