Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins not available for wild card game against Rams; J.J. Watt’s return up in air

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DeAndre Hopkins will not be available for Monday night’s wild card playoff game between the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams, Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury announced. Hopkins is still recovering from knee surgery that was the result of an injury sustained during Arizona’s Week 14 loss to the Rams. Hopkins caught 42 passes for 572 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 games during the regular season. 

The Cardinals hope that pass-rusher J.J. Watt can practice this week. Watt hasn’t played since sustaining a shoulder injury during the Cardinals’ Week 7 win over the Houston Texans

The losses of Watt and Hopkins contributed to the Cardinals’ 11-6 finish following a 7-1 start. The Cardinals’ offense has largely relied on quarterback Kyler Murray, running back James Conner, and receivers Christian Kirk and A.J. Green. Defensively, the Cardinals have been led by linebackers Markus Golden and Chandler Jones and defensive backs Byron Murphy, Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson. Golden and Jones combined to record 21.5 sacks and nine forced fumbles during the regular season. Murphy, Baker and Thompson picked off 10 passes while breaking up 26 passes. 

Arizona split its two regular-season games against the Rams, who finished a game ahead of the Cardinals in the NFC West standings. The Rams made headlines on Wednesday with the acquisition of safety Eric Weddle, who last played in the NFL in 2019. 

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