- The Washington Times
Wednesday, October 20, 2021

For months, Dustin Hopkins seemed to have the support of his coaches, even as the kicker went through prolonged struggles.

Washington coach Ron Rivera backed him after the preseason in which he missed three attempts. Rivera stood with him earlier this month, following two missed extra points against the Atlanta Falcons.

But Hopkins‘ second chances came to an end Wednesday.

The Burgundy and Gold released its longtime kicker, cutting Hopkins and signing Chris Blewitt from the practice squad to be his replacement.

The move comes after Hopkins missed kicks in three of six games this season, including a 42-yarder in Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

“I just think going into Week 7 after having gone through the first six that it was time,” Rivera said. “There were a couple opportunities that we had, opportunities to score and we didn’t, and you’d like to be more consistent that way.”

Hopkins, 31, was 12 of 14 on field-goal attempts this year and 10 of 12 on extra points. His 85% field goal percentage actually ranked 11th in the NFL, but Rivera said he felt cutting Hopkins was a transaction the team “needed” to make.

By cutting Hopkins, Washington moves on from a kicker who had been largely reliable for most of his tenure. After joining Washington in 2015 after brief stints with the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints, Hopkins went on to make 84% of his field goals and 94% of his extra points in 93 games for the franchise.

But this isn’t the first time Hopkins has been inconsistent. Last year, Hopkins only made 12 of 17 field goals through the first nine games. Rivera stuck by Hopkins then, and the kicker rewarded him by making 14 of his next 15 field goals to close the year, including the postseason. The strong stretch paved the way for Washington to re-sign Hopkins to a one-year, $2.5 million deal after the season.

Hopkins’ unevenness surfaced again in 2021. 

Washington turns to Blewitt — a 26-year-old kicker from Alexandria, Virginia, who has never kicked in an NFL game. In fact, his last kick in a game came in 2016, when Blewitt played college football at the University of Pittsburgh. In four years, Blewitt made only 69.6% of his kicks. But he finished his college career as Pittsburgh’s all-time leader in field goals (55) and extra points (198).

Before Washington, Blewitt had minimal success latching on with an NFL team. He spent a portion of the 2019 offseason with the Chicago Bears, but in the meantime, Blewitt worked a series of odd jobs to make ends meet.

Most recently, Blewitt said he worked two jobs: One as a personal trainer in Rose Hill and as a box-unloader for UPS at night.

“It was all great work,” said Blewitt, who also worked for Home Depot after college. “All the people there were very helpful. They understood the situation I was in and what I was trying to do. … Whatever training I had to do, they were all very flexible.”

Washington brought back Blewitt on Tuesday after he won another kicking tryout. 

“This was my move, my decision and I’ll live with it,” Rivera said.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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