The Cardinals have known for quite some time that they will be without their top wideout for, in all likelihood, the first six weeks of the regular season in 2022. To ensure he is fully prepared to return from his PED suspension upon his eligibility to do so, the team must also keep in mind the MCL injury DeAndre Hopkins is recovering from.
As a result, ESPN’s Josh Weinfus notes that the Cardinals are taking a “targeted approach” to Hopkins’ recovery. In essence, that will consist of the team putting him on a “pitch count” with respect to which days he practices on, and how much time he spends on the field at any one time.
“We’re trying to come up with a great plan that rolls right up to Week 7 of the season and make sure we’re smart about it,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “But, the main thing I don’t want him to do is ramp up, make a bunch of plays in training camp… and then six weeks he’s not doing anything.”
Hopkins will be allowed to practice with the team while suspended, giving both player and club the opportunity to institute a methodical recovery plan through the summer. A healthy return would be a welcomed sight for all parties, of course; the three-time All-Pro will have missed 14 of the last 16 games for Arizona by the time he will be cleared to play again. The impact of his loss on the team’s offense was significant late last year, precipitating in part one of Arizona’s most significant offseason moves.
The Cardinals traded a first round pick to the Ravens for wideout Marquise Brown during the draft, giving them a 1,000-yard wideout to deploy in Hopkins’ early absence. When both are available, Brown’s speed also projects as an effective compliment to the latter’s size and style of play. To ensure the tandem will be on the field together as soon as possible, the team will use a significant amount of caution in bringing back their No. 1 pass catcher.