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So far, so good for Forbath

forbath_vs.vikings.png

So far, so good for Forbath

It’s an admittedly small sample size, but Kai Forbath has proven to be a shrewd pickup for the Redskins.

Although the 25-year-old California native had never kicked a field goal in an NFL regular season game, the Redskins signed him Oct. 9 to replace struggling veteran Billy Cundiff. And so far, all the first-year kicker has done is make every kick he’s attempted.

“I’m thrilled with the opportunity,” Forbath said of his perfect start. “I didn’t know if it was going to come this year or next year or when. I’m just trying to go out there and take advantage of every chance I get and keep this streak going.” 

It’s quite a turnaround for a player who, just a few weeks ago, didn’t know when – or if – he would get his first legitimate crack at a fulltime job in the NFL.

Named college’s top kicker in 2009 as a junior at UCLA, Forbath was released by Tampa Bay after connecting on all five of his preseason attempts, including a 55-yarder. Despite his stellar performance, the Buccaneers kept standout veteran Connor Barth.

Although Tampa Bay’s decision didn’t stun Forbath, it didn’t make getting cut any less disappointing. In some ways, he said, it inspired him.

“I hadn’t picked a year where it was going to be like, ‘Okay, that’s it. I’m giving up,’” he said. “But it definitely was hard that first week after playing in the preseason and now I was back on the couch watching. That was the hardest time.” 

He added: "It hurt at first. Then it kind of motivated me."

So Forbath continued to practice and wait for his opportunity. Then he got the call from the Redskins, who decided to jettison Cundiff after he made only two of six attempts over a two game span.

Six days after arriving in Washington, Forbath’s first field goal attempt in a regular season game was a 50-yarder goal against the Vikings. The kick backed up his reputation for owning a strong leg. Against the Giants last Sunday, he showed his knack for accuracy, connecting on kicks of 20, 43 and 45 yards. 

Although Cundiff never seemed to get into a rhythm with long snapper Justin Snow and holder Sav Rocca, Forbath has developed chemistry with the veterans right away. 

“I just know these guys have been doing it a long time, a lot longer than I have,” Forbath said. “I know they’re good and they’ll get the ball down. I just have to trust that, just like I would with anybody else, and kick it like I normally do.”

Forbath said kickoffs are the area where he would like to improve. At Metlife Stadium last week, he put five of his six kicks into the end zone. But the Giants’ David Wilson returned four of them for a total of 106 yards, including a 32-yarder.

“We’ve had some success on field goals but we’ve got some work to do on kickoffs,” Forbath said. “You have to have a combination of hang time, distance and direction. That would be a perfect kick. We’re working on getting all that working.”

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Redskins Playbook: With offseason over, what mattered most?

Redskins Playbook: With offseason over, what mattered most?

Things were not dull in Washington this offseason. The team fired general manager Scot McCloughan and failed to reach a long-term contract with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Again. 

Of all the things that happened this offseason, what will make the biggest impact on the field? The results might not correspond to what created the biggest buzz. Going in reverse order, here's what will matter most to the Redskins this season.

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

  • No. 4 - The Redskins again could not reach a long-term deal with Kirk Cousins, but like in 2016, the quarterback won't allow that to impact his performance on the field. Bruce Allen's public statement about contract talks didn't help matters, but Cousins has possibly one hundred million reasons to stay focused on the field. 
  • No. 3 - Losing Sean McVay was a blow for this team that isn't being properly talked about. McVay's absence will absolutely have more impact on the 2017 season than Cousins' contract situation. An accelerated offensive mind adept at engaging players and running meetings, McVay will be missed. 
  • No. 2 - The Redskins handled the firing of Scot McCloughan about as well as a toddler handles applesauce. It was a mess. The team deserves to be admonished for how things shook out. That said, on the field in 2017, the Redskins won't really feel the affects. The team is in place, including many players of McCloughan's choosing. Some organizational, cultural loss could occur, but that is likely to be felt in the years to come. 
  • No. 1 - The biggest thing that will impact the Redskins on the field in 2017? Losing two of their best players from on the field in 2016. For all of the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster and not getting a deal done with Cousins, not having Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson will by far cause the most shockwaves for Jay Gruden's team. Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson might, even should, offset much of the loss, but until the proof is on the field this will remain the biggest offseason question in Washington. Jackson and Garçon accounted for more than 40 percent of Cousins' 2016 passing yards. That's a giant hole. 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

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Need to Know: Five pre-training camp questions for Jay Gruden

Need to Know: Five pre-training camp questions for Jay Gruden

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 26, one day before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 206 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 46 days.

Today’s schedule: Players report to training camp for physicals and conditioning test. Jay Gruden news conference 2 p.m.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 15
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 24
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 38

Five pre-camp questions for Jay Gruden

RICHMOND—The media portion of training camp gets underway on Wednesday as Jay Gruden holds his pre-camp presser at 2 pm at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center (that’s probably the last time I’ll use the full name of the facility).

Here are some questions we will ask of Gruden as he enters his fourth season as the Redskins head coach.

Will Kirk Cousins’ contract situation be a distraction? This must be asked, even though we know that the answer will be no. Yes, Cousins handled a similar situation just fine last year. But a quarterback playing on a second franchise tag is unprecedented. Certainly, Gruden has to guard against things getting out of hand if the season starts to turn sour.

In his fourth training camp, what is he doing now that he wishes he would have done in 2014? One very visible change has been a reduction in the amount of contact that takes place on the field. Will this continue to decline or, give the issues the team had tackling last year, will it ramp up? What used to be the morning practice and afternoon walkthrough were flipped a couple of years ago. Has there been any thought to changing it back?

How has the adjustment process to having so many new coaches gone so far? The Redskins have new coordinators on both sides of the ball and several new position coaches. As happens when any group of co-workers gets added to a workplace, there is an adjustment period. In the NFL, the coaches have to get up to speed with each other in a hurry.

Will Gruden use the season-ending loss to the Giants as a motivational/learning tool or just bury it in the past? It’s a fine line between learning from past mistakes and dwelling on them. While Cousin should make sure that he doesn’t throw another late-game interception like the one he threw in that game, he can’t have it spook him to the point where he can’t pull the trigger on a pass late in a close game. How Gruden handles the 2016 finale could have a major effect on how 2017 unfolds.

After having one of the highest pass ratios in the league, will Gruden look to run the ball more often? Last year, Sean McVay called passes on 62.4 percent of the Redskins’ snaps. The Redskins drafted a fourth-round running back in Samaje Perine and they may team him with starter Rob Kelley and call to keep the ball on the ground a few more times per game.

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.

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