One of the most intriguing position battles for the Oakland Raiders during Training Camp this year was that of the punter, with the organization bringing in undrafted rookie A.J. Cole to give some competition for Johnny Townsend.
The Raiders drafted Townsend in the fifth round in 2018 out of Florida, but his rookie season with the team was a bit underwhelming.
Townsend appeared in all 16 contests as the Raiders punter last season and punted 70 times for 3,022 yards (43.2 average) while pinning the opponent inside the 20-yard line 17 times.
Nobody expected Cole to actually win the job, but that wound up being the case as after an impressive preseason debut from him against the Los Angeles Rams, the Raiders decided to waive Townsend. The move may have been made a bit prematurely with still so much time left in the preseason, but the Raiders have had to deal with so many injuries that they simply could not afford to carry two punters on the roster.
It did not take long for Townsend to find a new home as Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network is reporting that he was claimed by the New York Giants:
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 14, 2019
In the first preseason game against the Rams, Cole ole punted four times for a total of 172 yards (43 yards per punt) with a 49-yarder being his best of the night. The NC State product has continued to impress, but now that Townsend is no longer in the building and the job is his, there will be a lot of pressure on him to perform moving forward.
The Raiders have had a lot of great punters in the history of their franchise, most recently Shane Lechler and Marquette King, so the hope is that Cole is the next to be added to that list.