CARDINALS

Cardinals' DeAndre Hopkins appreciative of praise from Patriots' Bill Belichick

José M. Romero
Arizona Republic
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Nov 27, 2022; Glendale, AZ, USA;  Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) celebrates after a touchdown catch against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first quarter at State Farm Stadium.

DeAndre Hopkins has the numbers and credentials to be a Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver. Still, he appreciates and is grateful for praise from one of the biggest names in the game.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick isn't known as much for raving about other players as he is for his rough exterior of a personality. Yet he told reporters who cover the Patriots that Hopkins, a five-time Pro Bowler who ranks first in the NFL in catches since 2013 with 838, has "tremendous ball skills" and that he catches everything and has great hands.

"... even if he’s covered there’s a place where the ball can be that he can get it and still make the catch. Great coordination on the sidelines. And he doesn’t really look it, but he’s a strong kid," Belichick said, as reported by MassLive.com. "You see him break tackles. He’s a strong kid in terms of creating separation on routes, yards after contact, tough yards like around the goal line or that extra yard for a first down type of thing.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick shows his displeasure with an official's call in a game vs. the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020.

There was more. The Cardinals host the 6-6 Patriots Monday night.

“He’s a smart football player. Very savvy. I’d say his ball skills are at the very elite level of guys that I’ve seen in this league. He’s up there with whoever the top guys are. ... I think he’s every bit as good as anybody I’ve ever coached against," Belichick said.

Hopkins said he enjoys playing against the Patriots because of the challenges they present on defense. He said it was very meaningful to see what Belichick said about him.

"A guy like Belichick is one of the most respected people in the NFL. And obviously, he's a he's a Hall of Fame coach, and for him to have that high praise about me, it's definitely mutual," Hopkins said Wednesday following Cardinals practice. "Love playing against him. After every game, I tried to make sure I say 'hey, what's up?' to him. So, you know, I've got a lot of respect for Belichick for sure."

Hopkins, who has made several impressive plays this season including a spin move after a catch that turned into a touchdown and a reach-back one-handed grab just before a defender could intercept the ball − both against the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 27 − hopes opposing coaches see how he enjoys competing when watching game film of him.

"I'm not the fastest, I'm not the strongest. But you know, I'm 30 years old, and I feel like no matter who's across from me, I'm still going to win. And I think other teams see that. I just, I leave it all out there," he said.

Hollywood & Hop

Cardinals wide receiver Hollywood Brown was asked Wednesday about the advantage of playing with Hopkins on offense. Both have been No. 1 receivers with both the Cardinals and their previous teams.

"Teams are going to come out in their base coverages but it's about you know, are they going to follow 'Hop' on this route? Are they more susceptible to bite on this, to bite on that? That's kind of like the advantage of having him out there," Brown said.

Quick outs

  • The Cardinals are being cautious with CB Byron Murphy, who was at least a limited participant in Wednesday's practice. Murphy has missed three straight games with a back injury. "He wants to play, we want to make sure he's able to play at the level he can," Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "So it truly is day to day. See how that back feels. Hopefully by Monday, he feels good enough."
  • Kingsbury will be observing to see how WR Greg Dortch catches kicks with his previously injured thumb this week in practice. Pharoh Cooper is the next man up as a returner if Dortch can't play Monday night.
  • OL Rashaad Coward (chest injury) might not play this week, Kingsbury said. Coward has seen more action of late with all of the injuries on the offensive line. He could return next week.
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