TEMPE, Ariz. – In one of the most poignant screams to practice since Allen Iverson’s famous comments in 2002, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins defended his practice habits on Wednesday.
Yes, Hopkins, one of the Cardinals’ franchise players, actually talked about practice. Not a game. Practice.
Hopkins has come under fire for missing a series of practices this season, but the lack of training time has had no effect on the NFL’s leading receiver, who has 1,324 yards and was named his fifth Pro Bowl on Monday.
Out of 41 drills so far this season, Hopkins has missed 18, 13 of which come on Wednesdays, 10 of which were for veteran holidays, according to the Cardinals’ injury reports. He has missed five exercises with an ankle injury, including the entire week 4 and two-thirds of week 7. He missed an exercise in week 12 with an illness and another exercise in week 13 with neck and back problems.
He has also been restricted three times.
The only week that Hopkins is not mentioned in the injury report was in week 6, when the Cardinals played on Dallas Cowboys Monday night football.
But Hopkins has yet to miss a game in his first season with the Cardinals. Hopkins accused the local media in Arizona of fueling criticism of his training plan, saying his grandfather monitors local sports shows and reports any negative comments to Hopkins.
“Yeah, man, I’ve heard a lot of negativity about not practicing when I first came to Arizona,” he said. “I do not watch the local news and channels in Arizona and the sports station, but my grandfather, he is an avid listener to anything and everyone. I think if any of you say anything bad about me, my grandfather, he is told me.So I’ve seen all the blogs and all this stuff.I’m pretty sure some of you might have been in there and egged it on, but I’m not saying any names.
“But there’s a reason I play football and they watch. And there’s a reason people are in positions for a reason. So I really did not listen to it. I do not listen to it. I listen to my grandfather and he said, ‘Man, Arizona, they’re really kind to you right now because you’re not practicing and all the critics of the athletes,’ but my grandfather also knows who I am and he knows how productive I’m on and he knew what I was going through and the people who give me things, they do not know what I went through or dealt with, and I do not let my news, or really what’s going on with me, be published for the future. “
Hopkins offered to be a guest at local sports shows, but said he charges fees for news, though news organizations make it a practice not to pay for guests; he said he would charge businesses that criticized him a reduced fee.
“And tell the people who say I’m not training,” Hopkins said, “to come and see me play the game.”