- The Washington Times - Monday, November 16, 2020

The Washington Football team is mulling a change at kicker due to Dustin Hopkins‘ repeated struggles, coach Ron Rivera said.

Hopkins before this season had been reasonably reliable since joining Washington in 2015. But he’s in midst of the worst year of his career.

Hopkins made only two of his three field goals in Sunday’s loss to the Lions — which proved to be a huge swing as the team lost, 30-27. The 30-year-old is just 12 of 17 on the season, with a career-low 70.4% field goal percentage.

Rivera customarily offered up a vote of confidence when asked earlier this season about Hopkins‘ struggles.

That changed Monday.

“It’s something that we are talking about and discussing,” Rivera said when asked if they’d consider bringing in competition for the spot. “The hard part is when you bring a guy in, you want to make sure the guy is going to fit you, a guy that’s got a lot of experience because you’re going to replace an experienced guy. It’s something we’re discussing.”

It’s tough to pinpoint what’s behind Hopkin’s drop off. He was limited throughout practice last week with a groin injury, but still was healthy enough to kick in Detroit.

Hopkins notably dealt with a hip injury in 2017 that forced him to miss eight weeks. But back then, his performance was still solid before taking time off. He had missed only two field goals prior to the injury. Washington stuck with Hopkins when healthy, waiving his replacement, Nick Rose.

Of Hopkins’ five missed field goals, only one was an attempt greater than 50 yards. Instead, Hopkins has missed kicks of 43, 44, 47 and 48 yards. Before this season, Hopkins had an 81.8% field goal percentage between 40 and 49 yards. That number is just 60% this season.

Hopkins has always had a limited range from 50-yard plus — making a little more than half (52%) of his attempts.

Rivera admitted Monday that he passed up a 56-yard attempt in the first quarter because he felt like it was out of Hopkins‘ range. Washington punted instead.

“That was a range thing,” Rivera said. “One of the things that happens is that (special teams coordinator) Nate Kaczor will come up to me and talk to me about probabilities. And you also take into the fact that at that point, if you miss it, the opponent gets the ball right there.”

Hopkins‘ career long is a 56-yarder. He last hit from that distance in 2018, coincidentally against Rivera and the Carolina Panthers.

If Washington wants to replace Hopkins, it could look to sign a free agent or stay in-house and promote Kaare Vedvik from the practice squad. Vedvik, a Norwegian who started playing football in college at Kansas, has been in the NFL since 2018, spending time with the Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets.

In his only career game, Vedvik missed both of his kicks (a 45-yard field goal and extra point attempt).

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