RICHMOND—The Redskins made an unusual change last year. After Kai Forbath went one for two on field goals in the season opener they abruptly jettisoned their kicker of nearly three full seasons and brought in Dustin Hopkins. His opening kickoff in the Week 2 game against the Rams was his first in an NFL regular season game.
They decided to go with the very green Hopkins over Fortbath, who had been their kicker since they signed him five games into the 2012 season. Forbath was an accurate kicker—he led the league hitting 94.4 percent of his field goals in 2012—but he didn’t have a strong leg. He struggled on field goals from over 50 yards and in 2014 he hit just 33 percent of his kickoffs for touchbacks, 31st out of 32 qualifying kickers in the NFL.
Hopkins was two for four on field goals attempts from 50 or more yards. That gave Hopkins as many field goals from that far out in 15 games as Forbath did in 41 games in Washington.
Perhaps more importantly he pounded 65 percent of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. That helped the Redskins’ shaky coverage teams, giving them about two thirds of their plays off.
His biggest play last year came in a losing cause. He launched a 52-yard field goal to tie the game against the Falcons as time expired. The Redskins ultimately lost in overtime but it was still a big moment for Hopkins.
He put his big leg on display again here yesterday. Early in the special teams only practice he boomed a 63-yard field goal. As you can see from the video the ball hits well up the net; it probably would have been good from at least five yards further.
On another kick he hit a camera operator who works high above the field behind the goal post on top of a crane-like mechanism.
“We weren't even live yet,” said Hopkins. “I was warming up and Julian was up there filming and he always gives me a hard time about possibly hitting him. The ball squeezed through the crane railing. He gave me the business afterward.”
There isn’t a challenger to Hopkins in camp so he has to push himself to stay on top of his game. The long field goal and the high kick to the crane indicate that everything is going well so far
At CSNmidatlantic.com we projected the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offense, defense) right after minicamp. Now we are taking it one step further and ranking the 53 players we think will make the team.
The rankings are determined by who we think will have the most impact on the 2017 Redskins. No consideration was given for past performance or for what a particular player might do down the road. We’ll be revealing the rankings over the next few weeks.
Today we’re updating the list with the players we ranked from 11-20, Here are some of the players in our latest update:
—A former top pick who has to come through after a rookie season lost to injury.
—Kirk Cousins’ front-side protector.
—Two free agent acquisitions.
—A third-year player in a pivotal season.
Go here to see our ranking of the 2017 Redskins, players 11-53.
Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.
With the excitement of training camp ramping up for Redskins fans, there are a number of players that the move to Richmond brings less energy. Veteran safety DeAngelo Hall is reported to start the season on the physically unable to perform list, which isn't a surprise, as well as linebacker Houston Bates.
ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end | Nickel cornerback | Inside linebacker | Running back
Other players are likely to also land on the PUP to start camp, including a pair of rookies:
- Rookie CB Fabian Moreau - The third round pick out of UCLA suffered a torn pectoral muscle at his UCLA Pro Day. Moreau has been spotted at Redskins Park working out but it seems unlikely his injury will be ready for full contact by late July.
- Rookie S Montae Nicholson - A similar scenario for the fourth round safety from Michigan State, who had surgery for a torn labrum earlier this year. Asked about both Nicholson and Moreau, Washington coach Jay Gruden provided no certain timeline.
"It will be a while," Gruden said in May. "I’m hoping maybe training camp, maybe later. It might be the regular season. We don’t know yet."
Technically, since they are rookies that sustained injuries before they joined the organization, Moreau and Nicholson will land on the non-football injury list. The functionality of that list works the same as the PUP during training camp.
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