Arizona Cardinals star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was suspended for the first six games of the 2022 season after testing positive for PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs). The talented receiver vehemently denied knowingly putting something illegal in his body, but the league believes otherwise, and quarterback Kyler Murray’s main weapon will be relegated to cheering his teammates on from a distance for the first month-and-a-half of the season.
Cardinals’ Pro-Bowl WR DeAndre Hopkins is being suspended six games for violating the NFL’s Performance Enhancing Drug policy, league sources tell ESPN. pic.twitter.com/hNGNX4Aegx
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 2, 2022
Former Cardinals great and future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald is one of the people in D-Hop’s corner.
In a recent interview with TMZ Sports, Fitz had this to say:
“He’ll still be a Hall of Famer. He’ll work through it. It’s just some adversity, and you know he’s a tough guy, resourceful, and he’ll work his way through it.”
Hopkins Defended Himself Against The Allegations
Following the announcement that he’d failed a drug test and would be suspended by the league, Hopkins defended himself with a statement via Twitter.
“In my 10-year NFL career, I have never tested positive for using performance enhancing drugs. To learn that my November test came back with traces of a banned substance, I was confused and shocked. I am very mindful of what I put in my body and have always taken a holistic approach, so I am working with my team to investigate how this could’ve happened. But even as careful as I have been, clearly I wasn’t careful enough. For that, I apologize to Cardinals fans, my teammate, and the entire Cardinals organization. I never want to let my team down. I fully intend to get to the bottom of this. As soon as I have more information, I will share it.”
This is Hopkins’ first failed PED test, and the timing couldn’t be worse.
DeAndre Hopkins (28 years, 166 days) is now the youngest player in NFL history to reach 700 career receptions, breaking the current record held by Larry Fitzgerald (29 years, 23 days). pic.twitter.com/oQTluea852
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) November 20, 2020
Team Traded For Hollywood Brown Draft Night: Can He Help?
In an effort to soften the blow of losing Hopkins, the Cardinals traded for disgruntled Ravens wideout Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. The trade reunites Kyler Murray with his top target at Oklahoma. Cardinals brass hopes the move is something that could hold them over for six weeks until Hopkins returns to elevate the offense for the season’s second half.
Both Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury need to take the offense to another level, and without Hopkins that doesn’t seem plausible. Kyler wants a new lucrative deal, and Kingsbury is fighting to keep his job.
In his first public comments since the suspension was announced, Kingsbury didn’t spend too much time dwelling on the absence of his superstar wideout.
“Yeah, learn from that, obviously,” Kingsbury said. “The addition of Marquise Brown will help. He’s obviously a dynamic playmaker and we just have to play better as an offense.”
Hopkins’ Injury Played A Role In Cardinals Late-Season Collapse
The Arizona Cardinals began the season 7-0 and looked like a Super Bowl contender, but injuries to Hop, JJ Watt, Chandler Jones, and quarterback Kyler Murray all played a role in the team’s demise.
Those losses, along with some questionable coaching by Kingsbury, contributed to the team in finishing 4-6 in their final ten games. They were then blown out by the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams in the wild-card round, which led to Murray expressing some discontent with the team and requesting a trade.
Winning has a strange way of making everything better, and once Hopkins returns the Cardinals could be serious contenders in the NFC.
At least that’s Kingsbury’s train of thought.
“It’s unfortunate that Hopkins won’t be available, but I’ll be excited when we get him back. We struggled the second half of the season, and when we get him back, I think that will be a real shot in the arm for the back half and I know we’ll get his best.”