As the playoffs approach, Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins is trying to remain consistent with routines knowing he could play a key factor in winner-take-all games.
Dustin Hopkins doesn't treat extra-point attempts – which are now at the 15-yard line – any differently than any other field goal attempt around the same distance, and leading up to last Saturday night's game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Florida State product had been perfect on the season.
But as he lined up for his first of five extra point attempts on the night, Hopkins saw his attempt go just left of the goal post.
"I think my steps were just off," Hopkins said. "After looking at it and kind of feeling out what the situation was, that's what I came up with."
Hopkins added that the elongated attempts "feel a lot different" than the former customary extra point attempts from the two-yard line, but they don't mess with his psyche.
"I don't really fall on either side," Hopkins said of having a preference of where extra points are attempted. "I just kind of deal with whatever situation is put in front of me. If it's shorter… yeah it's an easier kick, so that benefits me. But at the same time, it also brings some value to kickers in another way, so it's a way to set yourself apart. So I don't really fall on either side of that line, but I'm cool with the way it is. Whatever is asked I'm going to go out there and do."
Even with his missed extra point, Hopkins is still one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL this season.
Only six of the NFL's full-time kickers have made every extra point try they've attempted this season, and others, like Pro Bowlers Adam Vinatieri and Blair Walsh, have missed multiple attempts.
For Hopkins, who was signed after the regular season opener following the release of Kai Forbath, his production this season has extended to kickoffs, as he has 47 touchbacks in 14 games – the seventh most in NFL this season.
In comparison, Forbath had 48 in 41 career games for the Redskins.
While his ability to boom kicks into the end zone has been a pleasant addition to the special teams unit this season, he hasn't had quite as many touchbacks in recent weeks.
The Washington Redskins on Monday, Sept. 14, announced the signing of kicker Dustin Hopkins. Take a look at his NFL career in photos.
Against the Dallas Cowboys earlier this month, for example, Hopkins' last kickoff went just two yards into the end zone, allowing Lucky Whitehead to take it out and return it 46 yards.
Five plays later, Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey hit a 54-yard game-winning field goal.
Hopkins said it's been a combination of reps adding up and even some colder – and, in recent weeks, rainy – weather.
"There's some freshness that goes with it, but at the same time, I think as temperatures lower the ball just doesn't fly as well," Hopkins said. "You can hit the same ball Week 2 and then hit that ball Week 16 and it's just not going to fly as well if the temperature is low. If we are in the 80s the ball is going to fly nice. So yeah, I think if you look around the league in percentages, I'm sure touchbacks are going to go down later in the year."
Even with the season-long wear and tear, Hopkins believes he's in a good spot health-wise as the playoffs approach.
"Our bodies aren't beat up like a lot of these guys, but at the same time, with so many reps on one particular part of your body, I'm sure you're going to have wear there," Hopkins said. "So maybe you don't hit the weight room as hard, like every other week to try to build in some sort of recovery for that body part specifically. But as far as kicks go, the routines the same. So in practice, it's the same amount, and in a game, the pregame doesn't change. So I try to keep those things constant."