“He will always be a member of the Hall of Fame”

The Arizona Cardinals’ optimism for the start of the 2022 season took a hit with the suspension of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

However, longtime Cardinals great Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t think the suspension will persist as a blight on Hopkins’ resume.

“I don’t think so,” Fitzgerald replied when asked by TMZ if he thought Hopkins’ legacy would be tainted. “He’ll always be a Hall of Famer. He’s got talent. He’ll get through it. It’s just adversity and, you know, he’s a tough guy, resourceful, and he will be fine.”

The NFL announced Hopkins’ six-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy on May 2. Hopkins released a statement later that night in which he wrote that he was “confused and shockedregarding his positive test.

“In my 10-year career in the NFL, I have never tested positive for the use of performance-enhancing drugs,” Hopkins’ statement read in part. “To learn 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 investigate how this could have happened. But even as careful as I’ve been , it’s clear that I was ‘I’m not careful enough. For that, I apologize to the Cardinals fans, to my teammates and to the entire Cardinals organization. I never want to let my team down.

Fitzgerald and Hopkins were Cardinals teammates for one season in 2020 — the former’s last with the organization and the latter’s first.

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

To say he is important to the cardinals is not, of course.

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

With Hopkins absent going forward, quarterback Kyler Murray and the offense will have to rely on the recently acquired Marquise Brown, returning AJ Green and Rondale Moore at receiver, as well as veteran Zach Ertz and rookie Trey McBride on tight end.

“They have 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 there associated with Hopkins’ suspension, the Cardinals’ offseason has itself been a storm.

Arizona will start 2022 without Hopkins for the first six games — which will be 11 consecutive games without him, dating back to last season. When he returns, he will be called upon to boost the Cardinals offense and remind the NFL world what a star talent he is.

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