Norm Hall/Getty Images
Free-agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins “did not like to practice” while a member of the Arizona Cardinals, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
This isn’t totally revelatory.
Josh Weinfuss of ESPN reported in December 2020 that “Hopkins has come under fire for missing a number of practices this season.
The five-time Pro Bowler said at the time he was aware of the criticism and that his detractors should “come watch me play the game.”
The Athletic’s Tim Graham filed a similar report to Reiss on June 1: “The executives acknowledged Hopkins loves game day, but expressed concern over his practice habits.”
Whether or not Hopkins was a diligent contributor at practice didn’t matter as much when he was reeling off four straight Pro Bowl appearances between 2017-20. Over that time, he averaged 1,380 receiving yards per season and was unquestionably one of the NFL’s best wideouts.
Now that he’s 31 years old and coming off a pair of seasons in which he missed 15 games—six of those were due to a league-issued suspension in 2022—the extent to which he’s willing to put in the work becomes a larger concern.
Flipping a switch on game days becomes harder as even elite players age.
Not to mention, Hopkins will be on a new team, where practices are the best way to build a strong rapport with his quarterback and fellow receivers, at some point this offseason.
As he meets with interested suitors, Hopkins may want to address the narrative about his work ethic head on.