On the eve of Week 15’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, the Washington Redskins have made a roster adjustment. Place kicker Dustin Hopkins has been activated from injured-reserve and his fill-in Nick Rose has been waived to make room for the move.
Hopkins missed eight games with a right hip rotator muscle strain that he originally injured in Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs. He returned to practice this week and was eligible to return this week.
1. Hopkins is Reliable
Hopkins is in his third season with the Redskins. He became the team’s kicker in 2015 and has made 84 percent of his field goals, as well as 94.6 percent of his extra points. This season he is 9-of-11 on field goals and 12-of-13 on extra points.
He is already fifth on the Redskins’ all-time list for made field goals with 68. He only trails former NFL MVP Mark Mosely, Chip Lohmiller, Curt Knight and Shaun Suisham. He will look to add and move up the list. It seems he has gained the trust of head coach Jay Gruden and will be a mainstay as long as Gruden is the coach.
2. Redskins Get Upgrade in Kickoffs
Part of the Redskins special teams’ struggles has been its kickoffs in Hopkins’ absence. Hopkins has the stronger leg over Rose in this regard. Hopkins is fourth among all kickers and punters with at least 10 kickoff attempts this season. His kickoffs average 64.7 yards.
He has forced 20 touchbacks in 27 kickoffs (74.1 percent). Additionally, his ability to drive the football in the end zone limited returners to 7 returns for 137 yards. In comparison, Rose averaged 61.9 yards, forcing 24-of-38 touchbacks (63.2 percent) with 12 returns for 245 yards.
Hopkins essentially eliminates any chance of a return, which is a huge positive with a vulnerable kick coverage that has historically followed the Redskins.
3. We Haven’t Seen the Last of Nick Rose
Undrafted out of Texas, Rose has not attempted his last kick in the NFL. While his leg was a downgrade on kickoffs compared to the incumbent Hopkins, Rose certainly showed his ability to knock down field goals.
Rose made 10-of-11 field goals, including going 2-of-2 from 40-yards or longer. His longest kick a tough 55-yarder in Week 10 against the Minnesota Vikings.
He did miss two extra points, making 18-of-20. If he can clean that up and add a bit of distance to his kickoffs, he certainly can be a long-term answer for a team in need of stability at kicker. Washington may not be it, but Redskins fans may come across a future debate, because Rose has that much potential.