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