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Play of the Day: Redskins K Hopkins puts his big leg on display

Play of the Day: Redskins K Hopkins puts his big leg on display

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

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Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

For the second straight season the Redskins placed the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins. While the two sides are speaking amicably about a long-term deal, the July 15 deadline for those negotiations continues to inch closer without much expectation that contract will get signed. 

A second year on the tag is unprecedented for a quarterback. In 2016, Cousins made nearly $20 million playing on the tag. In 2017, that figure goes up to $24.

If the Redskins don't get a deal done with Cousins, many think the organization would not again go with the franchise tag because the price tag jumps to an exorbitant $34 million. 

Think again. 

Asked on Monday if another franchise tag would be an option for Cousins in 2018, Redskins team president Bruce Allen was clear.

"Yes," he said. "In the collective bargaining agreement, we really have one year and an option that we can do at the end of next season if we don’t get a contract."

Those options include the exclusive franchise tag, the non-exclusive franchise tag and the transition tag. Both franchise tags carry the same cost, but the non-exclusive allows Cousins' representatives to shop his services around the NFL. If a deal gets struck, and the Redskins don't match the contract, Washington is due two first-round draft picks as compensation for losing their franchise player. 

The transition tag carries a $28 million price tag, and the Redskins can match another contract but risk only receiving a possible 2019 third-round compensatory pick if Cousins walks.

Considering those options, another year on the non-exclusive tag might make sense. The NFL salary cap will be at least $168 million, which means Cousins at $34 million would account for about 20 percent of the Redskins' salary cap.

That's a crazy allotment for one player. Crazy. The Redskins do have about $54 million in cap space for 2018, so technically, another franchise tag could work. 

But the entire manner of the contract dealings with Cousins and the Redskins has been quite unconventional. The Redskins have already made history by franchising Cousins a second-straight year. 

"I think even Kirk said it, there’s a lot of players round the league who are on a one-year deal. It’s the nature of it, we’d like to get him a long-term deal and I think he should want to get one," Allen said. "Kirk’s played well on a one-year contract the last two seasons."

At this point, it doesn't require a degree in advanced mathematics to understand that the Redskins and Cousins have a different picture of the quarterback's long-term value. That could change by July 15th, it could, but it doesn't seem likely. The Cousins camp has little incentive to bend, as $24 million fully guaranteed for 2017 represents a great payday.

And maybe the Redskins don't plan on bending because the option of a third-straight franchise tag doesn't worry them. Or at least the option of letting Cousins shop his services on a non-exclusive tag, and then making a decision to match a deal or receive compensation seems a worthwhile endevaor. 

For Cousins, he's not counting out any possibility. 

"People, I’ve heard say, ‘There’s no chance they franchise tag him or even transition tag him the following season,’ and I chuckle because if the team has franchise tagged me for two years in a row," Cousins said to an ESPN podcast in March. 

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Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

The Redskins’ offseason starts to move into high gear today as organized team activities, better known as OTAs, get underway at Redskins Park.

Players have been participating in workouts at Redskins Park since April 17. The first phase of those session consisted of strength and conditioning. In the second phase, they were permitted to run plays but not with the offense lined up against the defense. Finally, in OTAs, they will go offense vs. defense.

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The practices, however, will not resemble an August scrimmage in Richmond. The players wear helmets but no pads and contact is not permitted. While players do block other players and there are collisions between players going after passes, the action is more like pushing and shoving that it is hitting.  

The part about no contact should be taken seriously. Seattle ran afoul of the no-contact rule last year and it cost them. The Seahawks were fined $400,000, lost their fifth-round pick in this year’s draft and they will not be permitted to hold their first week of OTAs this year. The Redskins will be very careful to keep within the rules.

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OTAs will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in each of the next three weeks. The sessions will be open to the media on Wednesday of each week. While player attendance is strongly encouraged the practices are voluntary.

The week after OTAs end the team will hold its minicamp on June 13-14. Minicamp is essentially a continuation of OTAs but player attendance is mandatory.

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.