‘He’s our kicker’: Rivera backs Dustin Hopkins after 2 missed FGs in preseason opener

'He's our kicker': Rivera backs Hopkins after preseason misses originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Ron Rivera isn’t looking to bring another kicker into training camp to provide Dustin Hopkins with some open competition before the end of preseason. 

“He’s our guy,” Rivera told media after Sunday morning’s practice in wake of Hopkins missing both his field goal attempts in Washington’s preseason opener at Gillette Stadium on Thursday night. 

Instead, Rivera reiterated his desire to see Washington’s field goal unit improve their timing

“For right now, we’re going to continue to work at it,” Rivera said. We’ve got to continue working on the timing and rhythm.”

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With the Burgundy and Gold opting to go younger at the long snapper position in the offseason, Washington released Nick Sundberg after 11 seasons and selected Camaron Cheeseman in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. 

In his seventh season with Washington, Hopkins has only ever built a relationship with Sundberg and punter/holder Tress Way, who remains in that role. Missed attempts from 40 and 50 yards out against the Patriots showed there’s still room for improvement for the new Hopkins-Cheeseman-Way trio. 

“Different snapper (Cheeseman) has a little bit more velocity and it’s been a little bit of a challenge, but we’ve got a few weeks,” Rivera said. “That’s why you have training camp to get those things right.” 

Rivera’s reluctance to sign another placekicker to allow Hopkins to best adjust to Cheeseman’s faster snaps could be big for Hopkins’ confidence. Hopkins is coming off a career-worst 79.4% field goal percentage in 2020, missing seven of his 34 field goals attempted as well as a couple missed extra points.

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