CARDINALS CORNER

Arizona Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins back playing the game he loves

Oct 18, 2022, 3:05 PM

Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins during practice on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Dr...

TEMPE — For the first time since Dec. 13 of last year, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will play an NFL football game when the New Orleans Saints come to town on Thursday.

Hampered by injury last year before a six-game PED suspension to start 2022, the wideout has been on the outside looking in for the past 9-10 months.

And even though he was able to rejoin the team in some capacity beginning in Week 4, the feeling of being stuck on the shelf was still very much there for Hopkins.

It was a frustrating time for the WR, who stayed level-headed throughout the suspension, but had to sit back and watch his team struggle offensively through the first six games.

But that all changed this week, with Hopkins fully back from his suspension and once again surrounded by his teammates. His days of only working out at EXOS are a thing of the past.

“Chills, man, chills,” Hopkins said when asked about being back among his teammates. “It almost brought tears to me. I love this game, I love being around the players.

“They’ve been fighting and trying to win some games. Just being around them and seeing how happy they were to embrace me, it felt good.”

The return of Hopkins couldn’t come at a better time for this Cardinals offense.

In addition to the ugly showings the team has produced on that side of the football, Hopkins returns just as Hollywood Brown heads to the sideline with a foot injury suffered in the team’s Week 6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

It’s tough break for the offense, which relied heavily on Brown as Arizona’s top receiving threat through the first six weeks of play. Arizona did manage to swing a trade with the Carolina Panthers for wide receiver Robbie Anderson, but the connection Brown and Murray was on another level.

While the return of Hopkins and his big-play ability should bring a big boost to a floundering offense on top of freeing up other pass catchers in the process, he can’t remedy all the issues this offense is currently dealing with. He shouldn’t be viewed as a savior.

“It’s not a miracle thing that (everything wrong with this offense is) gone,” quarterback Kyler Murray said. “We still got things we got to be better at, still got things we need to fix.

“Having him back definitely helps but we still got to better in all the areas that we’re not good in right now.”

Despite the injuries and suspension keeping him off the football field, Hopkins remained positive throughout the stretch.

The time away has given the wideout a greater appreciation of the game he loves so much. Football is in his DNA. His family is bonded to it.

“I love this game. I grew up around football. I grew up in the city of Clemson. My uncles played in the NFL. … My brothers, first cousins played in the NFL, so this is a sport that I grew up watching,” Hopkins said. “My grandpa was a hall-of-fame player in the state of South Carolina, so football is something I grew up in.

“If I couldn’t play, I’d still want to be a water boy or a trainer. Not being able to play, obviously it was hard but I love this game and I’ll always have appreciation for this game.”

And as for his failed drug test that showed .01% of Ostarine in the wide receiver’s system and led to this whole situation? Hopkins will have more to share on his independent findings following the conclusion of the season.

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