Dustin Hopkins: "I’ve worked my whole life for this"

Posted Aug 19, 2013

Dustin Hopkins addresses the media after practice on August 19.

Bills K Dustin Hopkins

Training Camp – August 19, 2013

Q: Over the last week or so, it looks like you rounded into form a bit more. Would you agree with that?

A: For sure. I’ve felt a lot more comfortable here recently, just with the tempo and getting used to practices and games. So, I feel like I’ve been hitting clean balls. I’ve felt comfortable, for sure.

Q: Have you locked down your approach to the point that you feel like you’re consistent with your mechanics all the time?

A: I think if somebody came up here and said, every time without fail that I’m minding my Ps and Qs every time, I think they might be lying to you. 99-percent of the time, I’d like to say yeah. But every once in a while there’s an anomaly in there that’s kind of like man, I have to fix that. But for the most part, my mechanics are feeling good. I’m breaking down film and making sure I’m documenting why I’m feeling better and being successful and things like that. And I think that’s all part of being a pro.

Q: You’re obviously happy that you have the job, but how do you feel about Rian Lindell being let go?

A: Just like you said, I find myself kind of in a paradox. This is something I’ve worked my whole life for, just to represent my faith, my lord, my family and hometown, things like that. It’s an honor and a blessing to be here, to stand in front of you all and talk about this right now. But at the same time, it’s kind of the bad part about pro sports, kind of parting with a guy I have a lot of respect for and have admired watching for a long time, and has meant so much to the community. A guy that treated me with a tremendous amount of respect, given the situation that was put in front of us, knowing that probably one of us was going to be gone. So, losing a guy that, even though it was a short stint, has become a friend of mine. Just to speak to his character, the first guy I heard from today, before I heard anything, was Rian. Just saying he was wishing me luck, wanted the best for me and he was happy for me. I think that’s just an accurate representation of the kind of guy he is, just not bitter or anything like that, but genuinely happy for a guy that he’s only known for a few weeks.

Q: Does this make all those summer kicking camps worth it?

A: Talk to my parents. They were the backers on it. (Laughs) No, for sure. I think all that work you put in, you kind of work to, not this moment exactly but that moment on the field when you’re feeling good and all those things are working your way and your hard work is paying off. Yeah, definitely, those summer camps have definitely paid off. Jamie Kohl texted me this morning. We became really close, family friends. And like I said, it’s one of those things you get to share with people you genuinely care about but it is a bad situation given how influential he was to the city and the team. I mean he was the longest-tenured athlete on the team.

Q: You’re perfect in the preseason so far, but your long is only 39 yards. Are you eager to get one of those long ones under your belt before the preseason is over?

A: I want to if the opportunity arises, yeah, for sure. But at the same time, I’m not focusing as much on the distances. I need to make every kick that’s presented, whether it’s a 55 or an extra point. It’s an old kicking saying: every kick is the same. I mean, yes I’m looking forward to that. But at the same time, I’m just trying to focus on making every kick, regardless of the distance.

Q: What did you learn from Rian?

A: For me it was like small things. I was taking ice baths for 10 minutes. He was doing extra. He was doing 20. It was little things like that. If he’s been in the league for this long, I ought to do 20 minutes. You’re breaking down film and you’re seeing a small foot angle of his that’s different than yours or an angle on his plant foot. Obviously it has worked for him. You take little things like that. It’s less like we were breaking up film together and he was giving me these huge tips, but just from observing him and how he went about his business. Just how to take care of your body and how those small things affect the outcome and the result of the kick.

Q: Has Coach Crossman been harping on directional kick-offs at all in addition to pinning the guy deep in the end zone?

A: Yeah, we’re definitely working on directional stuff. Sometimes I leave it in the middle of the field, which is obviously not what we need to do. But at the same time, I don’t want to give away too much special teams info. But yeah, it’s all a part of the game, trying if you can kick it out and in a good direction, that’s even better.

Q: How much easier has it been to transition into the NFL and maybe this season because you are already familiar with your holder?

A: It has helped out a lot. Having Shawn [Powell] for three years and having him aware of how I like the ball laying. He has actually helped me out because when I first came out, I had a more drastic lean. Without me knowing, he was kind of giving me more straight-up balls. And that’s when I started getting in the groove. We noticed that on film and saw that and said, if I’m hitting a cleaner ball like this, let’s stick with this. So he has kind of helped me through that situation without even being really overt about it. He kind of did it, I hit a good ball and he was like, let’s stick with this. So it has definitely helped for sure.

Q: Between you two and Garrison Sanborn, have you decorated the locker room with any Florida State stuff?

A: No, the specialists, I don’t think the specialists have (enough) clout. We can’t decorate any rooms. We’re not there yet. Maybe in a couple years.

Q: Is it cool that you are all from the same school?

A: For sure. I’m not sure if in history that’s happened before. Maybe it has. It’s cool to represent your university like that, to be proud of what you’ve done and how many people that you’re putting in the league, but specifically with the special team focus and emphasis, given the fact that Florida State is kind of known for their negative special teams play. And now we have a snapper, a punter and three kickers in the league now. It is kind of funny how people view the kicking game at FSU and here in Buffalo.