Wide receiver expects to become 'best friends' with QB Kyler Murray
He's studying the playbook twice a day every day, and DeAndre Hopkins is doing whatever he can to learn the Cardinals' offense.
That means leaning on coaches, or quarterback Kyler Murray. It's picking the brain of future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald. And it means putting some plays on his phone's lock screen - if there might be a moment away from the playbook where he can squeeze in some memorization.
"I think once you go out there (on the field), obviously that's always the best, to get reps when you're playing," the All-Pro wide receiver said Monday, as the Cardinals got started on their strength and conditioning program. "But I am picking it up."
No player is as anticipated in a Cardinals' practice once the team begins training camp than Hopkins. Hopkins himself is in that group.
There were many seasons in Houston, when that team's quarterback situation was unsettled, that Hopkins didn't get a chance to get extra work with his signal caller, so losing potential time with new teammate Murray doesn't worry the veteran as much as it could have.
Hopkins did take part in Murray's days-long get-together in Dallas in late June with the rest of the skill players, and that did help with the chemistry.
"We don't have a lot of time together but we are making the best of it right now," Hopkins said.
"My expectation is us becoming best friends," Hopkins added. "I have to be on the same page as my quarterback no matter what for us to be successful as a team."
Having a No. 1 receiver to add to a wide receivers room with Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, among others, should aid that success. Hopkins is trying to be the one that fits in. He knows the learning curve he faces, all the while listening to holdovers tell him how much further advanced the offense is compared to this time last season.
That's why Hopkins is trying to "master the basics" of the offense rather than have any deep talks with coach Kliff Kingsbury about what parts of the offense might fit him best.
"You can actually showcase your skillset in an offense like this," Hopkins said. "The conversation with Kliff and I is winning, and doing what we have to do to win."
Asked if there was a chance he could opt out this season because of COVID-19, Hopkins said "hopefully, it doesn't have to come down to that, but I take it day-by-day."
It didn't sound like Hopkins might sit out. There was too much enthusiasm for working with the offense, working with Murray, working with Fitzgerald.
Then there was his moment over the weekend when he pulled on his Cardinals' jersey for the first time, even with no game to play.
"Gave me chills, not gonna lie," Hopkins said with a smile. "Felt real good to be part of the organization. The Cardinal red and white and black looked good on me, if I do say so myself."