Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is coming back from an MCL injury suffered in December, and the team is looking forward to having its star back on the field. There is still some time before training camp begins, but the team has a clear plan for Hopkins' return post-surgery and is beginning to work out how it will approach his recovery.
Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said they are already working on their plan for when Hopkins returns in the seventh week of the regular season. Hopkins is suspended for the first six games for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy.
"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," Kingsbury said (via ESPN). "But, the main thing I don't want him to do is ramp up, make a bunch of plays in training camp, do this, practice really hard and then six weeks he's not doing anything."
The team, knowing Hopkins' value, wants to ensure he does not re-injury himself. He will aim to do so by switching off which days he practices, per ESPN. Kingsbury wants to use Hopkins' on-field time wisely, with clear goals in each of his practices.
"We have a good plan. But, he looks great. He's excited," Kingsbury said. "I know he's frustrated he can't play the first six but like I've said before, I think we'll get the best version of them those last 11 and [it'll] be fun to watch."
The 30-year-old is a main part of quarterback Kyler Murray's offense, and the new wide receivers on the team are excited for Hopkins return. Marquise Brown, who was traded from the Baltimore Ravens to the Cardinals this offseason, said he is unsure of what his job will look like while Hopkins is sidelined, but he will be ready for whatever the team needs him to do.
Anticipating Hopkins return, Brown said, "When he's back on the field, it's gonna be great," while adding that playing with Hopkins will be "very fun and exciting."
Last season, Hopkins had 42 receptions for 572 yards and eight touchdowns, helping the Cardinals go 11-6 and advance to the playoffs.