DeAndre Hopkins already ‘feels at home’ with Arizona Cardinals

Apr 17, 2020, 12:23 PM | Updated: Apr 18, 2020, 7:39 pm
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins isn’t getting the normal orientation like most NFL players do in a typical offseason after switching teams.

Hopkins can’t go out and get to know his new environment, or the people that live in it. He can’t even enjoy a casual night out in the Valley or get a real feel of the community he has already stepped up to help out.

It’s a weird time to be a new player in a new setting.

But while the coronavirus outbreak has impacted the start of Hopkins’ career as a Cardinal in more ways than one, the WR is already comfortable in his new digs.

“The welcome has honestly been overwhelming. I feel at home even though I haven’t even played a snap yet,” Hopkins said during a conference call on Friday. “Those guys in the locker room you can tell have a lot of respect for me and it’s the same.

“All the guys I’ve talked to have said nothing but good things about the organization. … The guys in the locker room, the young guys that have reached out to me, I can tell they’re hungry and ready to play, ready to win.”

There’s also a fellow All-Pro wideout that helps make the transition from Houston to Arizona all that sweeter. It’s obvious the two know each other from the gridiron, but their respect for one another goes deeper than just receiving totals.

“My relationship with [Larry] Fitzgerald, it’s been one of those relationships that I always respected his game, I respected the way he’s done it outside of football probably more so as a person and who he is and how he carries himself as a businessman,” Hopkins said. “Fitz always has the utmost respect from myself.”

But what about on the field?

Not only does Hopkins have a new playbook to learn, he has to build a rapport with second-year pro Kyler Murray with OTAs and other offseason workouts up in the air amid the COVID-19 spread.

The WR, however, sees some comparisons between Murray and his old signal-caller in Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson.

“Both of those guys are able to get out of situations with their feet, so that’s one of the things,” Hopkins said. “And also they both keep their head downfield and just trying to make that plan, not just with their feet. So that similarity is there, obviously they can run out of the pocket and get away from things but both of those guys also have a very strong arm.”

Last season, Murray was blitzed 151 times with 63 hurries, forcing the QB to either get the rock out of his hands fast or get out of the pocket and extend the play.

In 2019, Murray had an average of 2.3 seconds in the pocket before it collapsed or he had to get the ball out. Watson’s numbers closely echoed that of Murray’s, averaging 2.5 seconds in the pocket and getting blitzed 167 times.

But what Watson had that Murray didn’t was Hopkins, who has proven to be one of the most reliable receivers when quarterbacks are under pressure, using his speed and veteran prowess to find the open space to extend plays.

In their three seasons together, Hopkins and Watson connected for 25 touchdowns. Hopkins caught at least 96 balls for more than 1,160 yards and scored at least seven touchdowns in each of those three seasons.

Murray now not only has the added firepower of Hopkins, but his two primary targets from last season locked up for 2020. Hopkins sees the grouping of he, Fitz and Christian Kirk as something that could really impact the team immediately.

“I see myself fitting in very well, I know what I bring to the table, [Fitzgerald and Kirk] know what they bring to the table,” Hopkins said. “I feel like we are definitely going to push each other make the team better. I think I fit in well with those guys.”

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