DeAndre Hopkins won't be on the field for the Arizona Cardinals when the 2022 season gets underway, and not for some time thereafter, either. The All-Pro wide receiver is set to serve a six-game NFL suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances and, as such, the team will be without one of the best wideouts in football until its Week 7 bout with the New Orleans Saints. But despite Hopkins' misstep, Cardinals legend Larry Fitzgerald remains all-in on what he believes the final story will be on the suspended wideout.
"He'll still be a Hall of Famer," the future first-ballot Hall of Famer told TMZ Sports. "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."
Fitzgerald and Hopkins were teammates for just one season, in 2020, in what could have easily been viewed as a passing of the torch in Arizona. The club stunned the entire league in draft day trade that landed them Marquise "Hollywood" Brown from the Baltimore Ravens -- a deal that immediately became that much more valuable following news of Hopkins' suspension.
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In a written statement issued by Hopkins, he explains his side of what led to the suspension and, while there will be no continued appeal of it, he's still looking into how it happened.
"In my 10-year NFL career, I have never tested positive for using performance enhancing drugs," he said, via Twitter. "To learn that my November test came back with trace elements of a banned substance, I was confused and shocked. I am very mindful of what I put it 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 teammates, 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."
As for the Cardinals, they also successfully re-signed tight end Zach Ertz in free agency, giving them two key weapons for quarterback Kyler Murray until Hopkins can suit up again in late October. And, because of this, Fitzgerald believes they'll be OK throughout the first six weeks of next season.
"They got some talented guys around them," Fitzgerald added, also acknowledging it will still be tough to replace the production and threat to the opposing defense that Hopkins embodies. "Obviously, it's a big blow, but I think they'll be able to weather the storm."