The Arizona Cardinals are going to have to figure out a way to score points and win games without their top receiver.
Three-time All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins has been suspended without pay for six games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, the league announced Monday.
Hopkins issued a statement on social media Monday night, saying he was “confused and shocked” to learn he tested positive for a banned substance.
“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,” the statement said. “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.”
It’s a stunning blow for the Cardinals, who finished with an 11-6 record last season but faded down the stretch when Hopkins was out of the lineup because of injuries. Arizona had an 8-2 record when Hopkins was in the lineup and just a 3-5 mark, including the playoffs, when he was not.
Now they’ll be without the 29-year-old receiver — who turns 30 next month — for a big chunk of the upcoming season.
Hopkins played in 10 games last season, catching 42 passes for 572 yards and eight touchdowns. He missed much of the last half of the season, including the team’s playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams, because of hamstring and knee injuries.
The Cardinals softened the loss of Hopkins by adding a receiver during last week’s NFL draft, acquiring Marquise Brown from the Ravens for the No. 23 overall pick. Brown was a 1,000-yard receiver last season and college teammates with Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray when the two were at Oklahoma.
Hopkins’ suspension likely means a bigger role for Brown, veteran A.J. Green and second-year standout Rondale Moore, along with tight end Zach Ertz, during the season’s first six weeks.
Hopkins has been one of the league’s most productive receivers during his nine-year career, which includes six 1,000-yard seasons. He played his first seven seasons with the Texans before being traded in 2020 to the Cardinals.
Hopkins is allowed to participate in the team’s preseason practices and games.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL