Former special teams coordinator reacts to WFT releasing Dustin Hopkins


Ben Kotwica, formerly the special teams coordinator in Washington, says he doesn't believe Dustin Hopkins is done yet as a kicker in the NFL.

Washington released Hopkins after seven seasons on Wednesday and signed Chris Blewitt, a yet unproven kicker at the NFL level, off its practice squad. Kotwica tells 106.7 The Fan's Brian Mitchell and JP Finlay he wouldn't be surprised to see Hopkins pop up elsewhere in the league soon enough.

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"That's the nature of the business," Kotwica said in reaction to Washington releasing Hopkins. "Obviously there were some inconsistencies there that Coach [Nate] Kaczor and Coach Rivera probably saw and just felt like it might have been the time to move on. My personal reaction is I wish him nothing but the best. I don't think this is the last time you're gonna see him kick or try out. I still think there's some meat on the bone for Hop."

Kotwica was in the building when Washington first signed Hopkins back in 2015, after making the decision to move on from kicker Kai Forbath at the time. In Jan. 2019, after five seasons with Washington (2014-18), Kotwica requested and was granted permission to interview with other teams and left to take the same position in Atlanta (2019-20). Kotwica has recently been helping out the Army football team at West Point, his alma mater.

"I had a history with Hop there, obviously in Washington," Kotwica said. "First off, a great guy who was really, really a great teammate and was really a productive contributor for Washington for many years."

Kotwica was surprised by the timing of the transaction, suggesting the upcoming bye week in two weeks might have been an easier time for Washington to make the transition to a new kicker. Familiar with Blewitt, he recalls the kicker catching his eye coming out of Pittsburgh in 2016.

"I am familiar with Chris. I don't know him. Out of Pittsburgh, I think it was in '16 or '17," Kotwica said. "He's kind of gone through the circuit there, JP, and what I mean by that is going out to a handful of these clinics and combines and camps. I remember seeing him a few years ago at one of the combines, and in that scenario and in that environment, I remember seeing a kicker that caught my eye. I thought he had pretty good leg strength, good ball flight trajectory. But he hasn't kicked [in the NFL] and so you're right, now you're into the crucible and it'll be interesting to see how he responds and how it works out for him."

A lifetime 84 percent kicker, Hopkins has successfully converted 12 of 14 field goal attempts for Washington this season (85.7 percent). In addition to being shaky at best from 50 yards and beyond (51.8 percent) in his career, Hopkins has struggled with consistency as of late from all distances. Hopkins missed two extra points in a win over Atlanta two weeks ago and, in this week's loss to Kansas City, missed a field goal attempt from 42 yards out.

Kotwica says it's not uncommon for NFL kickers to lose their confidence for stretches and agrees that a change of scenery might be good for Hopkins.

"Yeah. [BMitch], you're a golfer, right? You've been on the first tee a couple times, haven't ya?" he said. "You know what that can be like when you're playing a Nassau or something and the crowd keeps gathering around the first tee.

"In my experience with Hop, I found him — he's been there for many, many years now. What's that, shoot, about seven years? So he's gone through some ups and downs during that time, and you're right, maybe that happens from time to time. But as far as his mental capacity and his stability, I always felt him to be a mentally strong guy. But you bring up a good point. Sometimes change is better for both parties involved and that might be the case in this situation."

With Washington's defense underperforming wildly and the team only 2-4 as a whole, Kotwica was asked if he thinks it's possible that the Washington coaching staff made a calculation that releasing its kicker might be the easiest way to send a me