Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said the decision to cut kicker Kai Forbath on Monday was due to his lack of leg strength, particularly on kickoffs.
“Kai was a good kicker for us for a few years now, very accurate, obviously inside of 40,” Gruden said. “But I think moving forward, you look at the total package [of] what a kicker needs to bring to your football team, and we were looking for a little bit of a stronger leg, especially on kickoffs. That’s the bottom line.”
The Redskins worked out and signed former Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins, who was drafted by the Bills in 2013 and spent this past two offseasons with the Saints. Interestingly, Hopkins, 24, was squeezed out in New Orleans by Zach Hocker, whom the Redskins drafted in 2014 and cut.
Hopkins has yet to kick in a regular season game, but he had a strong tryout at Redskins Park on Monday. More than anything, Gruden said, the 6-2, 193-pound Florida State product showed that he’s got a big leg.
“We think that the new kicker, if he can be close to [Forbath] in accuracy on field goals, the kickoffs will put him over the edge as far as being a little bit better,” Gruden said.
Forbath connected from 45 yards out in the Redskins’ 17-10 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday, but he also missed from 46. On kickoffs, Forbath recorded one touchback on three attempts—and it rolled out of the side of the end zone.
Gruden scoffed at the notion that Forbath, who is an accurate field goal kicker, was being made into a “scapegoat” for the team’s continued struggles on special teams.
“That’s funny,” Gruden said. “We’re not making Kai a scapegoat. That’s insane. All we’re trying to do is improve our kickoff cover team and we’re trying a young kicker who worked out here extremely well today. That’s the only reason. We feel like he was a very successful kicker in college. He made the Bills at one time and kicked well for New Orleans in the preseason.”
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