The Saints made a change at kicker.
Zach Hocker was let go by the New Orleans Saints after missing a pair of field goals during Thursday’s win over the Atlanta Falcons and will be replaced by Kai Forbath, according to league sources.
Hocker missed Thursday night from 51 and 47 yards, bringing his total to four missed field goals over six games, including one at the end of regulation in a win over the Dallas Cowboys. He has also missed an extra point.
Coach Sean Payton said last week that the team needed to be better in this area.
“They were just misses. I thought the operation was fairly clean, the protection was good,” coach Sean Payton said. “It’s just something we got to keep working on. And we’re going to play in a game that is a little closer than that — that one easily could have been real close. We just got to be better.”
Forbath, who joined the Washington Redskins in 2012 and played there until earlier this year, has made 60 of 69 attempts throughout his career. He is 23-of-27 from 40-49 yards and 2-of-4 from 50 yards and further. His career long is 50 yards.
What this means is the Saints will likely have a kicker they can trust inside of 40 yards, but field-goal range is likely to be shorter with Forbath as the kicker than it would have been with Hocker, who possesses a stronger leg.
Washington felt confident with Forbath in that range, but one of the reasons the Redskins decided to part ways with him is that he averaged 61.7 yards on kickoffs and did not register many touchbacks. In New Orleans, he typically would not have to worry about this since punter Thomas Morstead handles those duties when healthy.
“(Forbath is) very accurate, obviously, inside of 40. But I think moving forward, you look at the total package of what a kicker has to bring to your team, we were looking for a little bit stronger leg, especially on kickoffs,” Washington coach Jay Gruden told the Washington Post at the time of the transaction. “That’s the bottom line. We’ve got 16 regular-season games. We’re down 0-1, and we just think for the long haul, we’d like some better kickoffs.”
Forbath beat out Zach Hocker for the job in Washington last season. Forbath was then cut after the season opener after missing a kick from 46 yards and replaced by Dustin Hopkins, whom Hocker beat out during the preseason for the job in New Orleans.
Hopkins appeared to be more accurate during training camp but failed to convert that to the preseason. He missed two kicks that were longer than 50 yards, finishing 3-for-5. Hocker, meanwhile, hit from 47, 50 and 53 yards. His only miss was from 50 yards.
Hopkins has now made 10 of his 11 attempts in Washington to start the season.
The Saints have twice brought in kickers for workouts since the start of the season but both times decided to remain with Hocker. Kyle Brindza, Randy Bullock and Forbath were among those who worked out.
The Saints have had kicker issues for a few seasons. The team rode out last season with Shayne Graham, but he was inconsistent, and the team tried out kickers several times during the season.
It seemed Hopkins would be the one who would compete with Graham after he was signed to the practice squad in December and Graham was signed to a new contract during the offseason. But Hocker hooked on during the offseason and Graham was released in May.