HENDERSON, Nev.-The Las Vegas Raiders specialists are among the best in the NFL. A.J. Cole is not only known for making big plays, bu this personality relaxes the locker room with his big jokes.
Take a moment and enjoy Cole when you watch the video below, and read the transcript:
Punter AJ Cole
Q: What are you working on at this point in training camp?
Cole: “Just working on the cohesion with Trent [Sieg] and Daniel [Carlson]. It’s something that we have a lot of reps in the bank, but it’s not something we are taking for granted. So, we are trying to go out there every single day and build that cohesion, build that trust and there is never a point where we’ve gotten enough reps and we’ve gotten enough trust in each other, so that’s really big. I’ve worked a lot on my directional punting in the offseason, so that’s something that I’m going to go into this year really trying to focus on. Obviously, the distance and the hang time is something I’m always working on, but I think my big focus this offseason was directional punting and just trying to put that ball outside the numbers as much as possible. That was a big focus for me.”
Q: You’ve been crushing it in practice. Do you feel like you are going to peak too soon?
Cole: “I don’t really think that’s a thing necessarily. I think you are always trying to push yourself. You are always trying to find the next peak, keep working on all your different stuff you can do. I feel good about where I am at right now. Body feels good and just trying to stack days together and get ready for the season.”
Q: How has the transition to a new special teams coach been going so far?
Cole: “Yeah, it’s been good. Coach McMahon has coached some incredible specialists in his time from having Adam Vinatieri and Pat McAfee in Indy. Just throughout his career he’s coaches some incredible guys. Me, Daniel and Trent are just trying to soak up some of that knowledge, some of the things that he’s picked up from those guys. Trying to build that relationship, build that trust before we get into the season. Any time you have a new coach and new players, it’s definitely an adjustment. But I think we are learning a lot about each other, and he’s got a lot of info that he can really provide for us that we can absorb and get a lot out of. ”
Q: When there is a coaching change like that, do you ask people around the league about him to see what sort of expectations there might be?
Cole: “Sort of. I don’t really know anybody super well that he’s coached. I’ve talked to a couple guys that just kind of have been around him. We got a couple guys here that played with him in other places, but I think more so you just kind of have a conversation with him and figure out straight from him what he’s looking for and what he expects of you.”
Q: What are your early takeaways of your new teammates and new coaches?
Cole: “I can’t speak highly enough about the guys we brought in through free agency, the draft, undrafted free agents. They are just awesome guys to be around. Everybody comes in with a lot of energy, great attitudes, so I really can’t speak highly enough. It’s a locker room full of just awesome people. I look forward to sitting around the lunch table and just shooting the breeze with them and talking about whatever, working with them. All these guys are awesome. The coaching staff has come and earned the trust of the team, so we are looking forward to where that leads. But yeah, I can’t speak highly enough about everybody we brought in. Really high-character guys that are just great to be around. People that make you want to show up to the building every day.”
Q: First day in pads…You offer to teach anybody how to tackle?
Cole: “Yeah, you guys are earning your paycheck out here. First day of pads and you are going to have a bunch of audio bytes from the specialists. (laughter) I don’t have any headlines for you about cracking skulls or anything out there, but yeah, no tackling circuits for the special teams. We are just out there doing what we do.”
Q: Any thoughts on what Derek Carr is doing with his hairstyle ?
Cole: “Yeah, every time I see him it seems to get shorter, which is not how hair works. So, I think he’s been getting haircuts behind my back. Don’t love that. I ask him every day if he feels good about it, if he looks himself in the mirror and feels good about his hair, and it seems like he does right now. So, I’m happy for him. Obviously, I’m a fan of length. But we’ve brought in guys like Brandon Bolden, Mack Hollins who are kind of holding it down on that side of the ball.”
Q: Was Maxx Crosby taking reps at long snapper today?
Cole: “Yeah, you always want to have a backup long snapper just in case something where to happen. But Maxx is extremely competitive, and Maxx is my friend, so I think he would try hard out there.”
Q: Is Daniel Carlson’s hair competition for you?
Cole: “Yeah, so the thing about me, Trent and Daniel, we are going on year four together. So, we spend like an egregious amount of time together, in the building, outside the building. We are basically together every time but sleeping. Three meals together. We are just like in each other’s air space all day long, so I kind of said we are sort of morphing into the same person and maybe like five or six years from now we’ll just be indistinguishable. We’ll just kind of be like symbiotic twins or whatever. I don’t know what those are called, but yeah, basically we’ll just be one conglomerate person, just the average of each other.”
Q: Who is the most entertaining guy to be around at the lunch table?
Cole: “Mack Hollins, who has gotten a lot of, maybe almost too much conversation in these press conferences. (laughter) He’s the guy that’s always got like an interesting topic to talk about. We had a whole, long conversation the other day about different animals, where you would want to fight them, right? So, if you’d rather fight a lion on land or you’d rather fight an alligator in the water. That was Jarrett Stidham, Ameer Abdullah, Davante Adams was there, we were all just sitting around just talking about different animals and how we’d fare in the wild. So, yeah, those are just some of the samples of what we are talking about in-between meetings.”
Q: Is it true that at one point Mack Hollins had a pet lion growing up?
Cole: “I have no idea. I don’t know anything of that, but he did post on his Instagram story the other day a hypothetical about would you rather live in an apartment or a mansion that was full of rattlesnakes? And he said, he’d rather live in a mansion full of rattlesnakes because they are not aggressive, and I immediately called cap on that. There’s no chance that you are going to sleep peacefully at night in a mansion full of rattlesnakes. Give me the apartment all day long. It’s a ridiculous answer and he was just saying it to be controversial.”
Q: Q: When you see the unselfish stars on this team like Denzel and Darren and Josh working hard and not worrying about contracts, can that provide unity within this team?
Cole: “Yeah, I think the fact that we had everybody show up and everybody is kind of going about their work and the rest will take care of itself speaks a lot to the belief that this team has in each other and all that stuff. And at the end of the day, as far as the contract situations, guys on wining teams get paid. It sort of just works itself out. I think that being around these guys for a couple years I just really have so much respect for the love and character they have and the hard work. I think it speaks a lot to the buy in that we have from top to bottom. I think that stuff just kind of takes care of itself and I think they clearly believe that which is why they are here doing their job and going about their work every day.”
Q: What are you looking forward to most about going to the Hall of Fame?
Cole: “I’ve never been to the Hall of Fame. I’m kind of like a sneaky museum guy, so I’m looking forward to just going into the Hall of Fame. I think we are going to go a day early and kind of tour around, so see if I can find Ray Guy’s cleat or something like that. See if they got some cool artifacts in there, but yeah it will be cool to see that, the history of that and see all the guys that get inducted. We have two Raiders going in this year, so that’s going to be really exciting. I’m looking forward to that game. It’s obviously the first preseason game so the whole league is watching it. It kind of sets the tone for the preseason and for the whole year really.”
Q: Have you been working on coffin corner punts and getting the ball out of bounds inside the 10-yard line to rely on yourself more than maybe a guy getting down there but not knowing where the ball is, and it skips into the end zone?
Cole: “Yeah, I think it’s just kind of a give and take and working with the guys out there and kind of seeing what you got. But yeah, anytime you can put the ball out of bounds, it eliminates all returns and that’s sort of what we are in the business of doing around here. So, yeah, it’s a great play any time I can put the ball out of bounds in good field position.”
Q: How big of a goal is it for you to hit the roof here in the indoor field here at the facility?
Cole: “I have hit the roof in the indoor. Nobody was there to see it, but I will promise it happened. Yeah, it’s pretty high up there. It’s awesome actually that we have that facility in like a serious way because there is a lot of teams that when they need to go indoors, whether it’s heat, weather, whatever, they can’t really go through their full special teams stuff. They can’t punt in these little bubbles and stuff like that, so it’s actually a huge competitive advantage that we have that. But every now and then in the offseason if I can sneak in there and just kick a couple straight up in the air, it’s definitely something you want to do. When we played in (Dallas) Cowboys stadium, I spent the first three or four punts just trying to hit the scoreboard just to say I did it and then I focused on actually doing my job.”
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