DeAndre Hopkins on missed practices: ‘Come watch me play the game’

Dec 23, 2020, 12:17 PM

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) runs after the catch as Philadelphia Eagles sa...

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) runs after the catch as Philadelphia Eagles safety K'Von Wallace (42) pursues during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins doesn’t read headlines or hear what local television or radio voices say about him — not unless his grandfather relays media criticism his way.

There’s not been much to nitpick about the NFL’s leading receiver in his first season with Arizona, but Hopkins has ended up on the injury report each week.

Coming out of training camp, he was dealing with an ankle injury, leading to concern about his availability. Two weeks ago, a neck/shoulder issue popped up.

Mostly though, he’s been listed as a non-injury absentee, almost exclusively on Wednesday, when the Cardinals tend to give veteran players the day off.

Hopkins has not missed a game.

“I heard a lot of negativity about me not practicing when I came to Arizona. I don’t watch like the Arizona local news and the channels and the sports station, but my grandfather is an avid listener to everything and every single one,” Hopkins told reporters on a Zoom call Wednesday.

“I think if one of you guys say something bad about me, my grandfather, he’s told me. I’ve seen all the blogs and all this stuff. I’m sure some of you guys have been in there egging it on, but I’m not going to name any names.”

During Arizona’s 1-4 stretch from November to early December, Hopkins recorded fewer than 56 yards in the four losses. The lack of practice availability was the easy target for criticism, even if the cause-effect relationship between winning, getting Hopkins the ball and the rest of the offense is not clear.

“You know, for those people who don’t understand football and don’t watch — there’s a reason I play football and they watch. People are in positions for a reason,” Hopkins said. “I really didn’t listen to (the criticism), I don’t listen to it.

“I just listen to my grandfather and he was saying, ‘Man, Arizona, they’re really kind of on you right now because you’re not practicing … all the critics and the sports people.’ My grandfather knows who I am, also, and he knows how productive I am on that football field. He knew what I was going through and the people who were giving me stuff, they don’t know what I’m going through or dealing with. I don’t let my news or really what’s going on with me be publicized.”

Hopkins is coming off his best game of the year.

He made nine grabs on 11 targets for 169 yards and a score in the Cardinals’ 33-26 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. And that came after he missed Wednesday and Thursday practices for non-injury reasons before ramping up to full-go on Friday before the win two days later.

Arizona has made it clear the team not concerned the star receiver has missed practices.

“Every player’s different, the way their body responds throughout the season,” general manager Steve Keim told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf last Friday. “They know how to practice and how not to practice. We lean on our medical staff and (head athletic trainer) Tom Reed and those guys do a great job.

“That’s where we’re at is trying to make sure that he’s ready to go on Sundays. Again, everybody’s different in their preparation.”

To Keim’s point, Hopkins leads the NFL with 1,324 receiving yards this year, and it’s there where the receiver makes a case that the DNPs on the injury report aren’t a thing to worry about.

“Next year, please tell your friends and all you guys on the local stations, if you got any negative thing to say about DeAndre Hopkins: I charge to come on shows, but I’ll give a discount to come on a show for those people,” Hopkins told reporters.

“Tell those people who said I don’t practice to come watch me play the game.”

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