‘He remains a Hall of Famer’

Optimism for the start of the Arizona Cardinals’ 2022 season was dealt a huge blow with the suspension of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

However, Larry Fitzgerald does not believe the suspension will linger as a stain on Hopkins’ resume.

“I don’t think so,” Fitzgerald replied when asked by TMZ if he thought Hopkins’ legacy would be tarnished. “He’ll still be a Hall of Famer. He’s talented. He’ll get through it. It’s just some setback and, you know, he’s a tough guy, resourceful, and he’ll work his way through it.”

On May 2, the NFL announced Hopkins’ six-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Hopkins released a statement later that evening writing that he “confused and shockedabout his positive test.

“In my 10-year NFL career, I have never tested positive for the use of performance-enhancing drugs,” Hopkins’ statement reads, in part. “When I heard that my November test came back with trace elements of a banned substance, I was confused and shocked.

“I’m very aware of what I put into my body and have always taken a holistic approach, so I’m working with my team to explore how this could have happened. But as careful as I was, it was clear that I’m I’m not careful enough. For that I apologize to the Cardinals fans, my teammates and the entire Cardinals organization. I never want to disappoint my team.”

Fitzgerald and Hopkins were Cardinals teammates for one season in 2020 – the former with the organization and the former with the latter.

It is likely that how Hopkins reacts and returns will leave a lasting legacy for his career. At 28, Hopkins has three All-Pro designations and five Pro Bowl selections to his name in nine seasons — the first seven coming with the Houston Texans. Along the way, he produced 789 receptions (36th all-time), 10,581 yards receiving (42nd), and 68 touchdown catches (T50th). To say that he is already a Hall of Famer may be a premature argument.

Saying he’s important to the Cardinals isn’t, of course.

In seven games without Hopkins in 2021, the Cardinals were 3-4.

In Hopkins’ absence going forward, quarterback Kyler Murray and the offense will have to lean on the recently acquired Marquise Brown, returning AJ Green and Rondale Moore at the receiver, along with veteran Zach Ertz and rookie Trey McBride on the tight end.

“They’ve got some talented guys around them,” Fitzgerald said. “Obviously it’s a big blow, but I think they can weather the storm.”

With Murray’s desire for a new contract and the drama that followed, coupled with Hopkins’ suspension, the Cardinals’ offseason itself was a storm.

Arizona will start 2022 without Hopkins for the first six games — which will total 11 straight without him, dating back to last season. Upon his return, he will be called upon to boost the Cardinals’ attack and remind the NFL world of what an all-star talent he is.

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