DeAndre Hopkins wants to put on a show every week. But whenever the veteran prepares to face a team with an elite receiver, his desire to show out rises to another level.
Hopkins hasn't faced another premier WR1 in some time, but that will change Sunday when the Cardinals (3-4) travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings (5-1). They have Justin Jefferson, a young star at the position.
"I'm a No.1 receiver, so we have a silent competition," Hopkins said. "We always want to outdo each other, but we want each other to do well.
"He's one of my favorite receivers to watch in the NFL," Hopkins added. "He's a baller. I think he can even be better than me."
After missing six games due to suspension, Hopkins had 10 receptions for 103 yards on 14 targets in his 2022 debut against the Saints. As expected, Hopkins' presence on the field elevated and opened the Cardinals' pass offense.
Jefferson has been impactful on the field as well. Heading into Sunday, Jefferson ranks third in receiving yards (654) and yards per game (109.0) behind the Bills' Stefon Diggs and the Dolphins' Tyreek Hill. Jefferson needs 195 yards on the Cardinals secondary to surpass Odell Beckham Jr. for the most yards in a player's first 40 career games in NFL history, according to NFL Media research.
The receivers are in different places in their careers, with Hopkins in Year 10 and Jefferson in Year 3. Still, both rank top two in yards since entering the league.
"He's all the way elite," Kliff Kingsbury said of Jefferson. "They move him around, like Hop. He can move outside and beat you with a go-route or move inside and beat you with an option route.
"But the versatility of both those guys is unique. Great route runners, great hands. Very competitive, they're some similarities there for sure."
Don't get it twisted. Hopkins' No.1 priority is to help the Cardinals secure their fourth win of the season. He's always been team-first and that won't change.
He just wants to out-best one of the game's younger stars in the process.
"Of course," Hopkins said with a laugh if he would check the stats after the game. "Of course. But it's still about the win."