Saints kickers come through in clutch, make coaches run

Both of the New Orleans Saints' young kickers delivered Sunday as their competition kicked up a notch at practice.

Dustin Hopkins and Zach Hocker each made all five of their field-goal attempts -- including a 59-yarder from each of them that had players cheering wildly and forced the Saints coaches to run after practice.

Coach Sean Payton explained afterward that the first four kicks represented a battle between the offense and defense (each was assigned a kicker via coin toss). But when they went to the bonus fifth kick, Payton threw in the incentive that the coaches would run after practice instead of the players if they both made it from 59 yards.

"It was a good problem to have," said Payton, who said he needed to catch his breath as he met the media after practice. "That was encouraging."

Hopkins, a third-year pro from Florida State, and Hocker, a second-year pro from Arkansas, are both trying to crack their first NFL roster. Hopkins has been slightly ahead so far this summer, showing a stronger leg and more consistency in practice. But clutch moments like these -- and especially the preseason games -- will be the deciding factor.