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Panthers seek 'morale boosting' victory

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Panthers seek 'morale boosting' victory

The Redskins are a desperate team entering Sunday’s game.

But so are the Panthers, who, like Robert Griffin III and his teammates, believe they’re better than their record indicates.

There may be some truth to that. At 1-6, Carolina shares the NFL’s worst record with Kansas City and Jacksonville. But the Panthers have dropped their past four contests by a combined 12 points. In any of those games, a first down here or a forced turnover there, and the outcome could have been totally different. 

Last Sunday is a prime exacmple of the Panthers' prowess. They gave the NFC North Division leading Bears all they could handle at Soldier Field before Robbie Gould booted a 41-yard field goal as time expired to lift Chicago to a 23-22 victory.  

“We do need a morale boosting victory,” Carolina Coach Ron Rivera said this week on a conference call with local reporters. “It has been hard. It’s been very hard for a lot of guys because we’ve come so close and it’s been one thing or another. It’s something along the lines of, ‘It’s got to give.’”

Which is how they’re looking at Sunday’s game at FedEx Field.

There's also a sense that second-year quarterback Cam Newton is to break out of his season-long funk at some point. This season, Newton has thrown five touchdowns and rushed for three; last season, he tossed 21 touchdowns and ran for for 14 more.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Newton said, asked if he’s frustrated. “I’ve been learning so much about myself. Has it been humbling? Yes. But I feel as if there’s things I’m getting better at. I just have to keep growing.”

When the teams met in Week 7 last season, Newton directed the Panthers to a 33-20 victory in Charlotte. Carolina snapped a three game losing streak, while the Redskins saw their season-wrecking slide accelerate. It was the second of six straight losses for Washington.

The Redskins' find themselves at a similar crossroads this time. The Panthers, meantime, sense a chance to make good on some opportunities they've let slip. 

“Every time you play is an opportunity to win and that’s how we have to look at it,” Rivera said. "This is an opportunity for us to go out and play well and hopefully get the win."

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Who is Nick Rose? Three things you should know about the new Redskins kicker

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Who is Nick Rose? Three things you should know about the new Redskins kicker

Here are three things you need to know about Nick Rose, who was signed on Tuesday to replace Dustin Hopkins.

1) His next NFL kick will be his first one

Rose has spent offseason time with the Falcons and 49ers since entering the league in 2016 after his collegiate career at Texas. However, he has never attempted a regular season field goal or PAT, so the first time he does so with the Redskins will be the first time ever for him as a pro.

The 23-year-old certainly has potential: He was one of the nation's top touchback producers in 2014 and 2015 for the Longhorns, so distance on kickoffs and field goals shouldn't be an issue (this video of him nailing one from 80, yes, 80, backs that up). What remains to be seen is whether he can split the uprights for Washington.

For what it's worth, Hopkins was totally inexperienced in the NFL when he first signed with the Burgundy and Gold, too.

MORE: UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS - 'SKINS IN TOP 10

2) He can make kicks in unconventional ways

While this doesn't come across as something Jay Gruden would ever want Rose to try in, say, this Monday's game in Philly, Rose can sink chip shots while simultaneously completing a backflip.

Ever seen Adam Vinatieri do that? Nope, didn't think so.

3) He beat out at least three other candidates for the job

With Hopkins likely done for the year with a hip issue, the Redskins worked out a handful of replacement options on Tuesday.

It was Rose, though, who emerged with a contract. He earned it over at least three other guys, including veterans Mike Nugent and Andrew Franks. Now he must bring that strong leg, as well as some accuracy, when called upon to ensure the 'Skins don't miss out on any points on a weekly basis.

Making kicks in the middle of backflips is fun, sure. But making them in front of national TV audiences instead of a YouTube audience is probably more fun. Let's see if Rose has what it takes to stick around.

RELATED: IN CROWDED NFC, WHY NOT THE REDSKINS?

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Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins headed to injured reserve, per sources

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Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins headed to injured reserve, per sources

Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins will likely not play again this year, a source with knowledge of the situation tells our JP Finlay.

The team placed Hopkins on the injured reserve list, which means he's out at least eight weeks. To replace him, the Redskins signed Nick Rose, per NFL Network.

In his third season with Washington, Hopkins had made nearly 82 percent of his field goals this year. He made 12 of 13 extra points, but missed a very important extra point in Sunday's win over the 49ers.

Hopkins had a very strong leg, capable of touchbacks on kickoffs nearly every time the situation called for it. 

Rose is yet to play in the NFL but spent time with the 49ers. He kicked collegiately at the University of Texas.

As a senior in Austin last year, Rose made 13 of 17 field goals and 38 of 39 extra points.