A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece asking if the WFT could do better than Dustin Hopkins as its kicker. Given his mediocre career, I firmly believe it’s possible to do so. I’m not arguing he should be cut. I’m proposing that he should have been given competition in camp, and that Washington should have used this offseason to develop a Plan B, in case either Hopkins was injured or failed to perform at an acceptable level.
After all, if John Harbaugh can bring kickers in camp to compete alongside Justin Tucker - one of the best in the league - surely Washington is capable of doing the same thing.
Jake Verity's 44-yard field goal extends the Ravens' lead to 13-3 in the fourth quarter.— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) August 22, 2021
Verity is now 3-for-3 in the preseason, hitting from 42, 53 and 44 yards.
The Ravens backup kicker is showing that he belongs kicking somewhere in the league.
Unconcerned by two misses in the first preseason game, against the Patriots, Coach Rivera has stood firmly behind Hopkins, brushing off suggestions about bringing competition into camp.
'He's our kicker': Rivera backs Dustin Hopkins after 2 missed FGs in preseason opener https://t.co/Mx05hSZFBu— NBC Sports Washington Football (@NBCSWASFootball) August 15, 2021
It seemed like Rivera’s confidence may have been briefly rewarded, as Hopkins hit three very short (31, 31, and 34 yard) field goals in the second preseason game, against the Bengals.
Dustin Hopkins with 31-yard FG for WFT and #Bengals trail 6-3 with 22 seconds to play in first half— Richard Skinner (@Local12Skinny) August 21, 2021
But just this week, Hopkins was shanking kicks that should be makable, again, in practice, without “live fire.”
Dustin Hopkins went 4-for-6 in Washington’s kicking period just now:— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) August 25, 2021
Hit the right upright - 40 yards
Good - 35
Good - 40
Good - 33
Hit the right upright - 43 (bad snap)
Good - 45
I can only imagine how he’s going to perform on Saturday against the Ravens. Will the team only trot him out for short attempts, like they did against the Bengals, or will they have him attempting 40+ yarders, like he’ll surely be expected to do once the Chargers come to town?
Is the problem the rookie long-snapper, Camaron Cheeseman? It certainly could be, and if so, perhaps he should have had some competition in camp as well.
Looked like a little bit of a wayward snap from rookie LS Camaron Cheeseman. Tress Way had to adjust to make the catch and get the punt way. pic.twitter.com/mvieTprMyQ— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) August 13, 2021
For a coach that has preached competition uber alles, and who has cited a failure to provide competition at the QB position last year as one of his key regrets, he’s certainly treated the special teamers with kid gloves.
Perhaps Coach Rivera is concerned and he’s masking it for the sake of Hopkins’ and/or Cheeseman’s ego. Maybe he’s genuinely unconcerned, which would put him in some fairly rare company in the DC region at this point.
In any case, I think fans and coaches should be concerned, both about Hopkins and Cheeseman’s preseason performances, and that the team - like several other teams throughout the league did - should have brought in special teams competition this offseason.
In the meantime, let’s cross our fingers and hope that Coach Rivera isn’t giving interviews next spring about how it was a mistake to neglect roster competition yet again.
Are you concerned about Dustin Hopkins and/or Camaron Cheeseman this year?
This poll is closed
No, they’ll be fine.