Hamp Cheevers’ tenure in Oakland as a Raider was very short-lived as he only lasted two days on the roster. With his release, the Raiders have brought in defensive back Makinton Dorleant and cornerback Joshua Holsey.
Dorleant started his career with the Green Bay Packers in 2016 and played four games for them that season. He hasn’t found himself in a regular-season game since. His only stat is one tackle. Holsey was a seventh pick by the Washington Redskins back in 2017. He has played in 13 games and has compiled two tackles and one fumble recovery. These additions are likely meant to fill in for the injured Isaiah Johnson and D.J. Killings, who was just recently put on the injured reserve. Both defensive backs have been mostly practice squad players in their careers and that probably isn’t going to change.
The most notable move the Raiders made was waiving their 2018 fifth-round pick, Johnny Townsend. The punter was in a heated battle with A.J. Cole for who would be the Raiders’ punter and it seems like Cole has done enough to win the job.
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Johnny Townsend Was a Bust
It’s not often the bust label could be applied to a fifth-round pick, but teams also don’t usually use such high draft picks on punters. The Raiders were desperate for a punter after Marquette King was cut because of his controversial behavior. King followed Shane Lechler, who is considered one of the great punters of all time. King was almost just as good, but he wasn’t worth the headache.
Townsend had big shoes to fill and he wasn’t game. Yes, he was just a rookie, but he didn’t show enough promise to warrant the Raiders risking another year of poor punt play. He just doesn’t have elite leg strength and Cole showed more power. Why the Raiders used a fifth-round pick on him, just a year ago, seems like a huge blunder. There’s usually plenty of punting talent on the open market and in later rounds. The team has a new general manager now in Mike Mayock, so hopefully, he avoids bad moves like that. Head coach Jon Gruden essentially sent Townsend the kiss of death after Saturday’s preseason game versus the Los Angeles Rams.
“He put on an orbital display the other day,” said Gruden about Cole. We haven’t seen kicks like that since Lechler was here or King.”
The only punter that has played for Oakland since the days of Lechler or King was Johnny Townsend. Whether or not this was an intentional dig will probably never be known, but it was obvious who had the advantage after those comments. Cole is an undrafted rookie out of North Carolina State. He was a four-year starter in college and got 46.5 percent of his punts inside the 20-yard line in 2018, his senior year. Solid punt play can really help the defense and Cole seems to be an improvement over Townsend.