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WFT's Hopkins' Struggles, Rivera Reveals Stance

Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera is sticking with Dustin Hopkins ... for now

The kicking game might be one of the more underrated facets of the the NFL. But the Washington Football Team might need a reliable - new? - kicker if it hopes to repeat as NFC East champions.

WFT coach Ron Rivera said this week he isn't looking to move veteran kicker Dustin Hopkins, despite his lackluster outing on Thursday evening in New England. Instead, he's backing the 30-year-old moving into Week 2 of the NFL preseason.

"He's our guy," Rivera told reporters after Sunday morning's practice in wake of Hopkins' eyebrow-raising performance.

READ MORE: Washington Roster Moves: Samuel at Practice, Former Pro Bowl RB Cut

Hopkins missed his two field goal attempts - from 40 and 50 yards - in Washington's preseason loss to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. He did make his only extra point.

Rivera, however, is turning the attention more towards the special teams as a whole instead of just the kicker. 

Washington is working with new long-snapper Cameron Cheesman, the team's sixth-round pick from Michigan. WFT elected to move on from 11-year veteran Nick Sundberg and will be hoping the former Wolverine can be a stable option. 

These things take time, and Rivera is well aware of it.

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Coach Ron Rivera said both players will be on a “pitch count” in tonight’s game.

"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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For seven seasons, Hopkins only has worked with Sundberg and Pro Bowl punter Tress Way as his holder. Still, that doesn't excuse the struggles of 2020. Last season, Hopkins produced a career-worst 79.4% field-goal percentage, missing seven of 34 field goals and two of his 32 extra points.

Rivera accepts that Hopkins is having to adapt to a new operation, as Cheesman saw his first NFL action last Thursday.

"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."

Bottom line: Hopkins' job is safe. For now.

Kickers live a week-by-week lifestyle. Maybe next week, Hopkins is kicking for a roster spot and Rivera isn't as reluctant to say he'll remain in place for Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

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