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AJ Cole broke franchise record for longest punt with predecessor Shane Lechler in attendance

Sporting cowboy boots, blue jeans and a Raiders hoodie, former Raiders punter Shane Lechler inconspicuously walked up and down the home sideline before kickoff last Sunday – his second game attended in Las Vegas as a fan.

Across 13 seasons with the Silver and Black, he was a seven-time Pro Bowler and five-time First-Team All-Pro. He holds countless punting records for the organization including total punt yardage, net punt yardage and punts downed inside the 20-yard line.

He also held the franchise record for longest punt in a game until it was broken that day by AJ Cole. During pregame warmups, Cole sought out Lechler on the sideline to meet the legendary Raider, as the two punters greeted each other for the very first time.

"Meeting him Sunday and then watching him perform Sunday was fun," Lechler said. "I got to see him punt in person against the Patriots a few weeks before, but Sunday was the first time I met him.

"He's doing a hell of job and he's doing it the right way," Lechler added. "I told him before the game, 'There's going to be some ups-and-downs, just make sure you take care of you and you compete. You've got to make sure you keep your tools sharp.' That's what I told him. I said, 'Make sure you keep your stuff sharp and the winning will come when it comes.'"

Cole seemed to have taken Lechler's words to heart, snatching away the franchise longest punt record on a 83-yard touchback with 12:21 left in the fourth quarter.

"It was cool especially considering the history of the punter position here," Cole said postgame of breaking Lechler's record. "I got to talk to Shane pregame, and that guy is a legend. Any time I'm mentioned in the same breath as him is pretty cool.

"When I was getting into punting, that guy was one of the best in the business," continued Cole. "He just had an incredible career both here and with the Texans, so it's cool to get to talk to him and share experiences. There's some people in the building we both know and have mutual connections. Any time you get the opportunity to shake the hand of the legend is a cool experience."

Watching the record being broken in person was actually satisfying for Lechler.

"Records are set to be broken," he said.

While the records may fall, the memories remain. Lechler described it as a full circle moment to his playing career, bringing himself back to his own franchise record-setting punt (80 yards) Week 12 of the 2011 season against the Chicago Bears.

Cole hopes to continue his path of upholding the great tradition of Raiders punters. Last Sunday against the Vikings may have been the first encounter between between Lechler and Cole, but hopefully it's not the last.

"A really good guy, outstanding personality," said Lechler. "Hopefully one day we can sit down and have a beer and talk about things."

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