After joining the Redskins in Week 2, kicker Dustin Hopkins is hopeful for the growth of the team next season.
Dustin Hopkins' journey to the Washington Redskins has come with many bumps in the road.
After being drafted by the Bills in the sixth-round of the 2013 NFL draft, the majoirty of his rookie season was spent on Injured Reserve. Then in his second season, Hopkins was released during training camp.
The New Orleans Saints signed Hopkins to the practice squad near then end of 2014 season, and then released him the following September, just before the start of the 2015 regular season. Nine days later, the Redskins came calling.
Coach Jay Gruden said the team was looking for a "stronger leg" and brought in Hopkins to replace Kai Forbath.
"We've got 16 regular season games, we're down 0-1, we just think for the long haul we'd like to get some better kickoffs and we think that the new kicker, if he can be close to him [Forbath] in accuracy and field goals, I think the kickoffs will put him over the edge as far as being a little better," Gruden said.
Indeed, Hopkins produced from the kicker position, as he converted on 25 of his 28 field goal attempts and averaged more than 62 yards per kickoff with 52 touchdbacks, which were more than Forbath's three-plus seasons in Washington combined.
After playing collegiately at Florida State and being part of a rebuilding process during his freshman and sophomore seasons, Hopkins understands the type of growing pains that the Redskins have felt during the past few seasons.
"It's cool, being part of a team where not much was expected of us and being part of that building process," Hopkins said. "Obviously, I wish we would have gone further in the playoffs this year, but I think there's a lot of positives to take from this season. Shoot, my first and second seasons at Florida State I think we were just above .500, 7-6, and we were part of a rebuilding there at FSU, Chris and I, Chris Thompson, by the time we left we won the Orange Bowl. So hopefully it's similar to that, but instead of the Orange Bowl, it's a Super Bowl, you know. So that's the goal and I think we have the talent in this building to do it and I'm excited about next year."
When asked about his individual performance this season, Hopkins saw some parallels between his game and how the team played as a whole.
"I feel like it's kind of similar to the way our season ended as a team, personally, in that there was a lot of good things to build on and there's some plays that I wish I could have back and that I need to work on," Hopkins said. "So in the offseason, I'm looking forward to getting as good as I can be and coming back strong next year."