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Kicking Competition Entering Final Stage

Posted Aug 25, 2014

Kickers Kai Forbath and Zach Hocker have one more in-game opportunity to make their cases for the Redskins' regular-season kicker job.

Entering Thursday’s preseason finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, kickers Kai Forbath and Zach Hocker remain locked in a competitive battle for kicking duties.

That means their performances that night could be the deciding factor in who gets the nod for kicking duties against the Houston Texans in the regular-season opener. “You don’t have a lot of reps, so every single one counts,” Hocker said. “That means if you get one extra point, one field goal, three field goals -- whatever we get -- you have to make every single one of them count.

“This is the last time we get to showcase. Anything I can do to stand out to the coaches is what I’m trying to do.”

Hocker was the only kicker selected in May’s NFL Draft after a stellar career statistically at the University of Arkansas, while Forbath is entering his third season with the Redskins.

Signed by the Redskins in October 2012, Forbath would go on to set the record for most consecutive field goal attempts converted (16) to start an NFL career.

Shortly before the NFL Draft started, though, President and general manager Bruce Allen said he wanted competition and depth at every single position, kicker included.

Head coach Jay Gruden echoed that sentiment after seeing Hocker’s strong kicking in his Redskins debut at rookie minicamp.

“He is everything we expected,” Gruden said at the time. “We have a good field goal kicker here [in Kai Forbath], but the ability he has with that strong leg is an added dimension for kickoffs, and touchbacks are very, very important. We will see moving forward. We’re going to have competition, like I said, at every position, and kicker is no different.”

Hocker impressed in his preseason debut vs. the New England Patriots on Aug. 7, booming multiple kickoffs out of the back of the end zone while also hitting a 39-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

Forbath, meanwhile, hit both of his field goal attempts in Weeks 2 and 3, but admitted that he still needs to improve on his kickoffs. He had one of his kickoffs veer out of bounds against the Patriots, resulting in illegal procedure penalty.

He’s been working on several technical factors to his game recently and hopes they’ll show against the Buccaneers. “I’m just trying to keep my eyes back a little more when I make contact with the ball,” he explained. “Repetition will help. The more you do it the more your swing stays the same every time. It is just little technique things that I’ve changed up that will hopefully help.”

An interesting side note in their competition during the first two weeks of the preseason was the extended extra point experiment by the NFL.

Instead of a 20-yard extra-point attempt, kickers were tasked with a 33-yard extra-point try. While still a manageable kick, eight different extra points around the league were missed from the temporary spot.

Both Redskins kickers, though, made all of their attempts.

While the 33-yard extra point or any variation won’t be implemented this season, Hocker admitted that the longer attempts ensured he was keeping his concentration at a level it should be.

“A lot of guys get out there, myself included, we just try to kill the ball and it takes away from our technique,” the seventh-round pick said. “If we hit it just like any other extra point, without having plenty of leg to hit it, it’s just keeping that mental focus and mental stability to stick with your technique.”

While the decision as to who will be the starting kicker will be determined by the coaching staff, Forbath said that the decided on player will have earned the right.

“This is the kind of job that you have to earn your spot every year,” Forbath said. “So I just have to go out there (against Tampa Bay) and do what I have done since I have been here and the rest will take care of itself.”

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