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Play of the Day: Redskins K Hopkins puts his big leg on display

Play of the Day: Redskins K Hopkins puts his big leg on display

RICHMOND—The Redskins made an unusual change last year. After Kai Forbath went one for two on field goals in the season opener they abruptly jettisoned their kicker of nearly three full seasons and brought in Dustin Hopkins. His opening kickoff in the Week 2 game against the Rams was his first in an NFL regular season game.

They decided to go with the very green Hopkins over Fortbath, who had been their kicker since they signed him five games into the 2012 season. Forbath was an accurate kicker—he led the league hitting 94.4 percent of his field goals in 2012—but he didn’t have a strong leg. He struggled on field goals from over 50 yards and in 2014 he hit just 33 percent of his kickoffs for touchbacks, 31st out of 32 qualifying kickers in the NFL.

Hopkins was two for four on field goals attempts from 50 or more yards. That gave Hopkins as many field goals from that far out in 15 games as Forbath did in 41 games in Washington.

Perhaps more importantly he pounded 65 percent of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. That helped the Redskins’ shaky coverage teams, giving them about two thirds of their plays off.

His biggest play last year came in a losing cause. He launched a 52-yard field goal to tie the game against the Falcons as time expired. The Redskins ultimately lost in overtime but it was still a big moment for Hopkins.

He put his big leg on display again here yesterday. Early in the special teams only practice he boomed a 63-yard field goal. As you can see from the video the ball hits well up the net; it probably would have been good from at least five yards further.

On another kick he hit a camera operator who works high above the field behind the goal post on top of a crane-like mechanism.

“We weren't even live yet,” said Hopkins. “I was warming up and Julian was up there filming and he always gives me a hard time about possibly hitting him. The ball squeezed through the crane railing. He gave me the business afterward.”

There isn’t a challenger to Hopkins in camp so he has to push himself to stay on top of his game. The long field goal and the high kick to the crane indicate that everything is going well so far

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 23, seven days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins Kickoff 7:30 NBC Sports Washington; Redskins vs. Giants, NBC, 8:30  

Days until:

—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 7
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 17
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 24

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Giants

Look out for Eli—There are many reasons why the Giants are 2-8 but Eli Manning is not one of them. He isn’t nearly the turnover machine he has been for much of his career. His interception percentage this year is 1.6; he hasn’t been under 2.3 percent interceptions this decade. Manning only has 14 touchdown passes but considering that Odell Beckham, who went out in the fourth game of the season, still leads Giants wide receivers in touchdown receptions, that’s not bad.

Running game stuck—What makes Manning’s performance even more impressive is the fact that he doesn’t get much support from a running game. The Giants are 26th in the league with 920 yards. They have gained some traction lately after installing Orleans Darkwa as the starting running back; he is averaging 4.8 yards per carry for the season and 71 yards per game over the last three games. The Redskins certainly don’t want to let him get going tonight.

Reverting to reality—The Giants ranked 32nd in total defense in 2015. They dropped millions on free agents such as Janoris Jenkins, David Harrison, and Olivier Vernon and jumped to 10th. Now, this year they are 31st and equally bad against the pass (29th) and the run (30th). Health hasn’t been a huge issue, although Vernon has missed a few games and Jenkins was suspended. Redskins fans know full well that spending sprees don’t necessarily make for permanent improvements and Giants fans are learning it this year.

Keys to winning

  • Run the ballThe Redskins are 4-2 this year when rushing for 90 yards or more.
  • Continue to protect the ball—The Redskins have turned the ball over just twice in their last three games.
  • Don’t give them hope—The Chiefs let the Giants hang around last week and New York stole a win. The Redskins need to get on top early and mash down on the gas pedal.

Prediction—It’s hard to see a scenario where the Redskins lose this one. Even in their injury-depleted state they are battling every game and the same can’t be said for their opponents today. The weather forecast is for cold temperatures but not much wind, ideal conditions for Cousins to throw for 300 yards. For once, the Redskins get up early and keep going.

Redskins 31, Giants 13

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

The referees made a fairly obvious mistake last week in the Redskins loss to the Saints when they flagged Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for intentional grounding late in the game. 

Let's be honest: the call was terrible.

Cousins never felt a pass rush on the play, and was very obviously throwing the ball away. Jay Gruden talked about the play on Monday, and could not figure out how a flag came out in that situation. 

We had two receivers in the area. Quarterbacks throws it away all the time that are uncatchable balls whether they are in the pocket or not. As long as there is a receiver in the area, you can throw it whether they are looking or not. Guys run bad routes – one guy runs a hitch and he’s supposed to run a go and the quarterback throws the go ball, it’s not grounding. So I don’t know why the confusion.

The NFL even reached out and apologized to Redskins team president Bruce Allen for the blown call, a hollow gesture that did not generate much excitement from Cousins (via 106.7 the Fan). 

Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.

If you're keeping score, the NFL, the Redskins head coach and the Redskins quarterback all know the call was wrong. 

You know who doesn't think the call was wrong? Fox analyst, and former Cowboys Hall of Fame QB, Troy Aikman.

Grounding? Free rusher? Decide for yourself below.