DeAndre Hopkins missed his second straight day of practice on Monday as he deals with slight tightness in his left hamstring.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury does not believe the injury will linger for too long, as Hopkins is "working, getting better each day, and I expect him back soon."
The All-Pro wideout is projected to be quarterback Kyler Murray's top target this season, and while the injury may not be major, it is cutting into their practice time together.
Kingsbury said he does not consider Hopkins' unavailability a setback even though the regular season is less than a month away.
"It's not," Kingsbury said. "He's been so productive in this league. He's a pro's pro when it comes to knowing what it takes to have his body ready and his mind ready to perform at a high level Week 1. You'd obviously like Kyler to get a few more reps with him, but they got some great work in this summer and he's a guy who is going to present himself well on the field for a young quarterback. We don't worry too much about it, knowing what he's done in this league and what he's about."
While the lack of an offseason meant a long time away from any team activities for the players, Kingsbury doesn't believe the hiatus was the reason for Hopkins' soft tissue injury.
"DeAndre is a guy who works really hard at his craft and stays in great shape, so I'm not sure that's a reason for it," Kingsbury said.
Hopkins has only missed two games in his seven-year NFL career.
Starting cornerback Robert Alford was also not present during the open portion of Monday's practice. He reportedly tore a pectoral muscle on Sunday, per NFL Network, and is expected to miss the season. There has been no official word from the team about Alford
CARDINALS PUT ON THE PADS
For the first time since the end of the 2019 season, the players were allowed to put on pads and make full contact with each other. Kingsbury made sure the action didn't go overboard by instituting tackling guidelines beforehand, but noticed an uptick in intensity and chippiness.
"I think that's to be expected," Kingsbury said. "The guys have been waiting for this day for a long time, and wanted to go out there and impress their teammates and their coaches. There was some definite physical battles out there, which we knew there would be. We just have to learn how to practice together day in and day out, maximize who we are as teammates and keep growing."
Running back Kenyan Drake said the players "love" the physicality of football and enjoyed the practice.
"We'd been doing 7-on-7s and skeletons, all of that, for long enough," Drake said. "Now, obviously we're going to take care of each other on the field from a practice standpoint, but everybody was flying around. There was a lot of physicality out there, which I like, and a little chippiness. Everybody has been kind of sitting around with their loved ones – family members, girlfriends, wives – for six, seven months. Now we can go out there and play ball again, so I feel like everybody is using that energy really well."
KINGSBURY, LEACH FROM SAME TREE BUT MUCH DIFFERENT BRANCHES
Safety Jalen Thompson has experience playing for two of the most famous coaches of the Air Raid offensive philosophy – Mike Leach at Washington State and now Kingsbury.
Kingsbury played under Leach at Texas Tech and uses some of the same concepts, but while their offenses are similar, Thompson said their personalities are not.
"Coach Kliff is more of the cool, laid back coach, more of a players' coach," Thompson said. "Leach was more of a weird guy. They're a lot different."
Thompson remembers one of his first interactions with Leach in college.
"He's real big on pirates," Thompson said. "I remember the first time I came to Wazzu, I walked into his office. We were just talking at first, and I look over to the right, and it's a big pirate skeleton in his office. It was weird. I was like, 'Why do you have this.' He's like, 'Oh, I love pirates.' He has books on them and a whole bunch of other stuff."