Kicking competition will go down to ‘the very last minute’

kickers

Kai Forbath (left) punter Robert Malone and Zach Hocker head to the field for practice. (AP)

RICHMOND – Kai Forbath and Zach Hocker have had a handful of kicking duels in the first week of training camp, but coach Jay Gruden said he still doesn’t know if he’ll choose one or find a way to keep both when it comes down to finalizing the 53-man roster.

Forbath, a third-year pro, has proven himself reliable, particularly on field goals, making 87.5 percent of his attempts. He hasn’t had the same type of success when it comes to racking up touchbacks (only 29 in 119 kickoffs), however.

Hocker, Washington’s seventh-round draft pick out of Arkansas, boasts a strong leg on kickoffs. But it’s rare that a rookie has success kicking field goals. That normally requires a little seasoning.

It’s possible that the Redskins would keep Forbath for field goals and Hocker for kickoffs. Some NFL teams do elect to do so, but it’s rare to use two roster spots for essentially one job.

Forbath got the better of Hocker in their latest showdown. After both made seven straight field goals (starting at point-after-attempt range and moving back in increments), Forbath nailed a 60-yarder, but Hocker’s try from the same distance fell well short. Then both missed an attempt apiece from 67 yards out.

Gruden said the true evaluation will begin in the preseason games, and that a decision on the kickers will not come down until final roster cuts.

“We’re still evaluating,” he explained. “It’s hard to evaluate a kicker out here. Coach [Ben] Kotwica is doing a good job when they’re out there charting every kick that they make, both kickoffs and field goals. They did some kicking yesterday afternoon, hopefully will do some more today, and then we’re just continue to evaluate and go from there. That decision, if we keep one or two, will be made at the very last minute.”

What’s ahead:

Washington began its Friday morning practice at 8:35. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.

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