DeAndre Hopkins was reminiscing about his 'Hail Murray' touchdown catch Monday after practice – "A legacy catch," he called it – and how much it was going to be talked about.
It did win the ESPY for best sports play of the year. "I thought I might see some poster boards around Phoenix," the Cardinals wide receiver said. "I guess I have to make a couple more of those catches."
"I've got one in my room."
It was one of a bunch of topics Hopkins hit on Monday during his first meeting with the media this season. He laid early ground rules, saying he wasn't answering any Covid questions after his tweet (that he later deleted) saying he might retire if he was going to be forced to get the vaccine.
But Hopkins, who set a franchise record with his 115 catches, still touched on legacy, "nirvana," the benefit of veteran A.J. Green arriving for the offense and even his own practice habits.
Hopkins may be going into his eighth season, but he said he can only improve with deepening chemistry with Kyler Murray. He hears those who say a team can't win a Super Bowl with a "No. 1" receiver – so he isn't looking for such a designation.
"I can go out and get 1,400 or 1,500 yards but it really doesn't mean anything if the team is losing," Hopkins said, adding, "I don't want to be looked at as a No. 1 receiver. I want to be looked at as a consistent receiver. It's not really a numbers thing, it's a championship thing – nirvana."
That could be helped by the addition of Green, who after a couple of subpar years in Cincinnati, has looked good in practice. Green said their connection was immediate, with Hopkins already telling Green if he wanted to swap a route at times, he would switch.
"There are no egos in this room with us," Green said.
What's more, that same idea that Green has of Hopkins making the game easier for him with defenses? Hopkins can see Green aiding him the same.
"To be honest, I probably haven't played with anyone of his caliber also," Hopkins said. "I know you guys (in the media) are probably going to take that and run with it. Larry (Fitzgerald) is obviously a Hall of Famer, I got to play with him later in his career. I got to play with Andre Johnson, later in his career.
"The reason I say that, A.J. still has a lot in the tank. The other two Hall of Famers I played with I'd say were at the end of their career. They taught me a lot, but I feel like A.J. is still in his prime."
Hopkins said he doesn't think he's reached his peak either. His statistics certainly showed that last season. He's a different player than when he first got into his first training camp in Houston – less weight training, a lot of running (but not on concrete anymore), and cardio via Soul Cycle.
This is a man who set high school interception records in South Carolina and went to Clemson originally as a defensive back. Yes, you see him be the clothes he wears and mistake him for a "high-class, bougie kind of guy."
"But I'm a dog, man," Hopkins said.
As for practice, "I love practice," Hopkins said. "A big misperception about someone like me, he doesn't like practicing." Instead, Hopkins said, he got a tightrope procedure in his ankle about three years ago, a fix to a lingering problem that can often slow a player.
So he'll sit out once in a while, being careful. "Coaches are smart how they manage my hours," Hopkins said. "But I love competing."
After all, that's how he came down with that legacy catch between three Bills last season.
"I just like football," Hopkins said. "I hate losing."
Images from the fifth practice of training camp in 2021.