DeAndre Hopkins’ return after Week 6 ‘will be shot in the arm’ for Cardinals
TEMPE — The narrative surrounding head coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Arizona Cardinals after last season largely focused on the team’s inability to finish off yet another season strong.
By now, we’ve all seen the trend. Since 2013, Kingsbury sports a 42-20-1 record in Games 1-7. The other half of the season? A 17-45 mark from Game 8 on.
The head coach acknowledged his part in the skid throughout the offseason, saying he needed to get more guys involved offensively and dial up different gameplans with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins sidelined for most of the second half of the year.
Unlike seasons past, however, Kingsbury not only has to contend with righting the second-half-of-the-season ship, he’s got to get through the first six games of the season without Hopkins due to a performance-enhancing drug suspension.
All the talk must now translate to on the field for Kingsbury.
But instead of looking at the glass half empty, the head coach is remaining optimistic.
“(Got to learn from that), obviously,” Kingsbury said following the first day of rookie minicamp on Friday. “The addition of Marquise (Brown) will help, he’s a dynamic playmaker and we just have to play better as an offense.
“It’s unfortunate that he won’t be available but I’m excited for when we get him back. We’ve struggled in the second half of the season and when we get him back I think it will be a real shot in the arm for that back-half and I know we’ll get his best.”
With DeAndre Hopkins sidelined with a suspension to start the season, head coach Kliff Kingsbury said the #AZCardinals must learn from last year’s failings when the WR was on the shelf.
Added the addition of Marquise Brown certainly helps. pic.twitter.com/F1FohEsqkF
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) May 13, 2022
Despite the team going out and acquiring Brown in a draft-day trade with the Baltimore Ravens, replacing Hopkins will be a tough task.
He only played in 10 games last season, yet still paced the Cardinals with eight receiving touchdowns.
And when he was off the field, the offense took a noticeable dip in production.
With teams not having to keep an extra eye out for Hopkins on the regular, the offense sputtered with A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, Antoine Wesley and Rondale Moore as Arizona’s top wide-receiving threats.
Now it’ll be on Brown and quarterback Kyler Murray to reconnect to their Oklahoma days and make up for Hopkins’ absence over what is going to be a tough start to the season, beginning with the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1.
“We’re going to see where he fits, first and foremost,” Kingsbury said. “We like what we have in A.J. coming back, Rondale, Zach Ertz, now Hollywood. Now we just got to figure out where he fits best.
“That type of speed, whether it’s inside, outside … it’s dangerous. He was behind people a bunch last year and we got to find ways to maximize him.”
– Kingsbury on if the team knew about Hopkins’ suspension before trading for Brown:
“That’s more of a Steve (Keim) question. He’s really good at his job.”