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Questions mounting for Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins, but he won't make excuses

Questions mounting for Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins, but he won't make excuses

Through six games, Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins looked like he might be heading to the Pro Bowl. He made his first 12 field goals, and didn't miss a kick until a Week 5 windstorm in Baltimore, opening the year making 15 of 16 field goals. Further, Hopkins proved accurate from deep distances and repeatedly booted the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs.

In the five games since Baltimore, however, Hopkins has begun to struggle. He missed an important kick in Detroit in Week 7 and missed two against the Bengals in London, including an overtime miss that could have won the game. 

On Thanksgiving in Dallas, Hopkins missed two more field goals. That makes the former Florida State kicker 10 of his last 15 kicks. Certainly there are lots of extenuating circumstances surrounding some of the kicks — like a 55-yard attempt against the Cowboys directly into the sun.

Hopkins does not care about the circumstances.

"It's unfortunate, just the nature of the business," Hopkins said following the 31-26 loss to the Cowboys.

Redskins players and coaches support Hopkins, and it's not a surprise if you've met the kicker. He stands out as a nice and genuine guy in a locker room with good character.

"I’m not worried about him," Washington coach Jay Gruden said on Thanksgiving. "I have faith that he’s going to make those kicks. I see him do it every day in practice."

Backing up Gruden's confidence, Hopkins leads the NFL with 25 made field goals this season. Dig a little deeper, though, and that stat isn't quite as impressive. The Redskins offense struggles in the red zone, which means Hopkins gets a lot of field goal opportunities where other teams might be scoring touchdowns. To that end, the 'Skins also lead the NFL with 31 field goal attempts, four more than any other team. 

At 25 of 31, Hopkins is making 80.6 percent of his kicks. That ranks 21st in the NFL. That said, Gruden calls for difficult, deep kicks often, and three of Hopkins' six misses are from 50 yards or greater. 

After a poor effort in the Cowboys game, some players might try to avoid the media or make excuses. Hopkins did neither, and that should give Skins fans confidence that the young man can get back to his early season performance.

"I'm paid to make kicks," Hopkins said. Asked specifically if the glaring sun might have been a factor in his long miss in Dallas, Hopkins was clear, "It was unfortunate where the sun was at the time but when I’m looking down at the ball, that’s not an issue. It’s not an excuse."

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Running back is one position where things could look very different for the 2020 Redskins

Running back is one position where things could look very different for the 2020 Redskins

Not much has gone to plan for the 2019 Redskins. Congratulations, you won't read a more obvious thing all day.

Running back is one such spot on the team where the preseason expectations haven't been met. A surprise benching in Week 1, injuries and inconsistent production have plagued what was supposed to be one of the most stacked positions on the roster.

Because of those issues, there may be a lot of RB turnover this offseason, leading to what could be a different-looking depth chart in 2020.

The main reason for that possible shuffling is Derrius Guice's unfortunate health problems. Guice has actually been placed on injured reserve twice since Week 1, with the second trip to I.R. ending his year. If you count exhibition contests, he's suited up for the Burgundy and Gold seven times as a pro and has had to leave three of those contests with knee injuries.

There was so much hope that Guice would be able to prove himself this time around and convince the Redskins he could be their go-to option for the future, and when he dominated the Panthers for 129 yards and two scores, his long-discussed talent and potential popped.

But with a torn ACL, a torn meniscus and a sprained MCL already in the NFL, the franchise can't move forward with him as their surefire No. 1 back. This was the season where he could've seized the job, yet instead, indications are he'll need to be grouped together with other pieces.

Elsewhere in the backfield, Chris Thompson very well could be playing in his last three games for Washington. The 29-year-old is incredibly helpful in a lot of ways, but he, too, has difficulty staying on the field. After seven campaigns with the organization, it might be time for both sides to move on.

Then there's Bryce Love, the team's fourth-rounder who's essentially been redshirted as a rookie. The Stanford product has to show that he can recover from his own knee struggles — he had another surgery on it in late October — but he's got a lot of speed and should be more than ready to be a factor in 2020.

Oddly enough, Adrian Peterson has yet again been the steadiest running back for the Redskins. After Jay Gruden's decision to sit him for the opener, the 34-year-old has rebounded and shown he still can be a valuable asset. He's under contract and seems like a logical choice to keep in town for one more season. 

So, when added all together, the team has quite a few questions at running back. They've got to decide whom to trust out of a crop that includes someone who's super-skilled but often dinged up, a mainstay who could be on his way out, a totally unproven draft selection and an aging but still useful veteran, while also considering possibly acquiring other bodies.

Coming into 2019, RB looked like an area of strength for the Redskins. Now, nearing the end of 2019, it appears to be an area of mystery.

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DeAngelo Hall wants to rejoin the Redskins, but this time, in the front office

DeAngelo Hall wants to rejoin the Redskins, but this time, in the front office

Plenty of signs point to the Redskins making significant changes in the front office and coaching staff this offseason and former Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall wants to help rebuild the organization. 

"I've always wanted to be a part of this front office and help make the Redskins a dominant team again," Hall said via text message to NBC Sports Washington. 

Hall's comments come amid speculation that Redskins' team president Bruce Allen could be on his way out. Allen has run the Redskins for a decade, and in that time the team has no playoff wins and a record of nearly 30 games under .500. 

Since his playing career ended in 2017, Hall has kept plenty busy working with NFL Network (and for one season at NBC Sports Washington). He was also connected to potential coaching jobs with the Redskins and at the University of Maryland. As a player, Hall lined up at cornerback and safety for the Redskins during 10 seasons in the Burgundy and Gold. He made 23 career interceptions in Washington and made the Pro Bowl in 2010. Injuries marred his last four seasons as a Redskins, but from 2009 to 2013 Hall was a serious playmaker.

As an analyst Hall seems highly capable of breaking down defenses as well as grading personnel. And while he doesn't have personnel experience, multiple young players in the Redskins organization credited Hall for helping their careers develop, including Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller and Quinton Dunbar. Hall made such an impact on Dunbar that he changed his number to 23 after Hall retired. 

Hall made clear he's not trying to replace Allen and that he could work with the current team president should he stay in position. Hall also doesn't expect to be named general manager; he just wants a role that can help the organization.

One big spot Hall could help? The Trent Williams' situation.

It might be impossible to fix the relationship between Williams and the Redskins, but if anybody could, Hall would be the guy. Throughout Williams' contract holdout this fall, Hall had the best pulse of the situation. In fact, for a while, it seemed like Hall was the only person with ties to ties to the Redskins organization speaking with Williams. 

Now, obviously Williams won't come back to Washington as long as Allen is in charge. His recent comments have made that abundantly clear. Should Allen get fired, however, Williams does have one year remaining on his contract in Washington. Maybe Hall, in a front-office role, could convince Williams to come back to Ashburn and rescind his trade demand. Stranger things have happened. 

The Redskins have a number of young players in the secondary with Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Jimmy Moreland leading the way. Hall in the building every day could help those players. 

Hall played for 14 seasons in the NFL, many of them at a high level. He's open about some of his missteps from when he was a young player and has a natural charisma that is hard to replicate. Ask Breeland or Dunbar how Hall helped their career. Ask Williams what Hall means to him on a personal level. 

For a team that has burned many bridges with players, current and former, a guy like Hall could be a big asset. 

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