Raiders punter AJ Cole putting together historic start to career

Las Vegas Raiders punter AJ Cole is the next in a long line of elite punters for the franchise.

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders
New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders / Michael Owens/GettyImages
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Cole dominates as the Raiders move to Las Vegas

The next season, the team moved to Las Vegas, the pandemic was in full effect, and his numbers dipped. He finished year two in the bottom half of the league in total yards, yards per punt and longest punt. But once again, almost half of his punts were downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, ranking 5th best in the NFL.

So, it was still obvious he had the intelligence, the touch, and the tools – and in 2021, he put it all together.

He led the entire league with 50 yards per punt (15th best single season in NFL history), 5th in red zone percentage and the 7th most punting yards. This earned him an invitation to the Pro Bowl alongside three different First Team honors – Associated Press, Pro Football Writers, and Pro Football Focus.

Ironically, the man who first gave Cole a shot by inviting the undrafted punter to Oakland a week after the draft, was promoted to interim head coach that year. So, it was quite fitting that Cole became the best at his position during the same season Rich Bisaccia reached the pinnacle of his career.

During that season, Bisaccia praised Cole saying, “He understands where we are on the field and what he wants to hit. It's not only the red zone or the fringe red zone, what's he going to hit on the right hash, what's the difference between when he plays in our stadium compared to when we're playing outdoors when the wind is a factor. Some of those things and who's playing on the outside for us has a lot to do with the coverage for AJ as well.”

In 2022, AJ Cole was named team captain and earned another Pro Bowl honor.