Of all the moves the Cleveland Browns made over the last few days to get to their initial 53-man roster, trading for kicker Dustin Hopkins and releasing kicker Cade York will get the most attention. It could also impact the Browns season the most.
For a variety of reasons, York could not create consistency during games. Unlike worries in the past, York’s problems were not just due to lake effect winds at Cleveland Browns Stadium (formerly FirstEnergy Field). Cleveland’s former kicker struggled everywhere.
As we learn more about Hopkins, the unknown still lingers for many fans. An 85% career field goal kicker and 94% mark in extra points, Hopkins’ numbers are fine enough. The Browns need him to be consistent on the easier ones and hope he isn’t called on for any deep ones (55 of 68 between 40 and 49 yards, 14 of 27 from 50 yards or more).
Hopkins has kicked in one game in Cleveland back in 2020. He made two of his three extra points and did not attempt a field goal. The extra point sailed wide right according to the game log.
To help Hopkins, the Browns will be practicing at their stadium this week according to a report:
The #Browns will practice at Cleveland Browns Stadium tomorrow. First opportunity for new kicker Dustin Hopkins to get comfortable in his new stadium.— Brad Stainbrook (@StainbrookNFL) August 30, 2023
With just one home game during the preseason, practicing at the stadium can help the other players get more comfortable with the backdrops and surroundings.
With heightened expectations, Hopkins will have a short leash with fans but will be celebrated if he is consistently able to make his kicks. Last year, eight full-time kickers made more than 90% of their field goals. Discussed as the best kicker in the game, Justin Tucker was not among that group at 86% on the year.
York was one of the worst in the league, just ahead of Will Lutz among those who played in 17 games, at 75%.
Hopkins has a low bar compared to last year but a high bar in the eyes of Cleveland fans. The Browns are hoping practicing at the home stadium will help that process of success along.
What are your expectations for Dustin Hopkins this year in a Browns uniform?