Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins ‘moving around a lot better than he was’
TEMPE — Like the rest of the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals dealt with their fair share of injuries last season.
Unlike most of the league, the magnitude of said injuries, specifically to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, deeply hindered Arizona’s ability to keep things rolling along in the second half of the season.
The dropoff in play with Hopkins on the sideline was evident. In the seven games the wideout missed due to hamstring issues and a torn MCL, Arizona posted a 3-4 mark, highlighted by a 1-3 finish. The offense wasn’t hitting on all cylinders and those around Hopkins failed to step up when called upon.
And given the timing of Hopkins’ torn MCL and surgery to repair it, the jury’s still out as to whether or not he’ll be full-go by the time training camp and the preseason roll around.
“Hop is still going through some rehab but he’s moving around a lot better than he was,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Thursday.
Getting a healthy Hopkins back at any point this offseason would be a big boost a Cardinals offense looking to get back to its first-half-of-the-season glory.
With Hopkins on the field in 2022, Arizona went 8-2 behind his 42-catch, 572-yard and eight-touchdown season. Despite playing just 10 games, Hopkins still paced the Cardinals in receiving touchdowns.
Healthy Hopkins or not, it’s on Kingsbury to remedy last year’s downfall from a gameplanning standpoint.
“We got to continue to evolve, there’s no doubt,” the head coach said. “I think when we lost Hop … I didn’t do a great job at adjusting some things. That was a learning lesson to all of us.”
Hopkins isn’t the only one Cardinal looking to get back to full strength this offseason, with offensive lineman Justin Murray and tight end Maxx Williams both rehabbing their respective injuries.
Murray, who suffered a back injury early on last season, looked to be full-go, Kingsbury said. Murray was among the trio of linemen vying for the starting right guard spot last training camp before Josh Jones won the competition. He saw just three games before being shut down with the back issue.
Williams on the other hand, appears to be more of a touch-and-go situation after suffering a season-ending knee injury.
The tight end was compiling an strong 2021 campaign before going down in Week 5, reeling in 16 of his 17 targets for 193 yards and a touchdown. Despite the injury, Arizona re-signed the tight end to a one-year contract this offseason with the vision of pairing Williams with Zach Ertz, who re-signed on a three-year deal.
“(Williams’) has been in there the last three months getting after it, so I’m hoping it works that way,” Kingsbury said. “He was playing so well beginning of last year, so to have (Williams and Ertz) playing at that level would be really good for us.”