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Hop V. Alford, And Camp Practice Aftermath

Cards normalize a bit as offensive linemen return

It's fun to see the battles of camp. Sometimes they don't reveal themselves too early – sometimes you need some pads on – and sometimes the battles come right away. It's hard not to have noticed the last few practices how hard wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and cornerback Robert Alford have gone after each other.

The other day, in one-on-ones on jump balls in the end zone, Alford broke up one pass although Hop felt he had been interfered with. Hop made the TD catch on the next play. Monday, Hopkins knocked Alford to the turf and was wide-open for a 20-yard TD – only to have Alford take of his helmet and complain, and the nearby official drop a flag. That earned the official some discussion time with Hop. Hop was tightly covered by Alford in 7-on-7 before making an impressive TD grab and quickly chucking the ball backward over his head for emphasis.

"I love it," Hopkins said. "Guys like going up against me also, because they know that have to strap up. Rob is somebody I knew before I got into the NFL, he and I trained together for the Combine, so Rob and I go back. Rob knows how I am, I know how Rob is. We're just trying to get each other better out there. It's not personal."

-- It was an interesting practice. All the main Covid list guys were back – Rodney Hudson, Kelvin Beachum, Justin Pugh on the offensive line; Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson at wide receiver – which gave a better look to the offense, more or less. Christian Kirk was absent, as was Brian Winters, who had been running first-team right guard most of the time. Wide receiver Antoine Wesley, who had gotten a lot of work with all the receivers out, was also absent.

-- We saw more of the three-linebacker-Hicks-Collins-Simmons package out there, and who knows? Maybe by the time games are played for real, Hicks will get to play like he wanted and some of the "drama" as Hicks called it will be a moot point.

-- Maybe it's because receivers were not practicing, maybe it's because he's driven to get stuff done, but again, it was difficult not to notice rookie WR Rondale Moore. Once was for a mistake – he was open on a slant at the goalline when the Cards were working the offense inside the 10, and just dropped it – but he also made a great catch of a bomb with Byron Murphy stride-for-stride on a Kyler toss for a TD and caught another Kyler bomb later on.

-- Murphy is, as Vance Joseph said, the Cards' best cornerback. Alford has had moments and Malcolm Butler had an interception in the end zone, but Murphy – even when he gets beat – always seems to be right there. His closing speed to break up an out route to A.J. Green early in the session was impressive.

-- As a backup, Josh Jones is going to get a lot of guard and tackle cross training on the offensive line. But with Beachum out all those practices, he got a ton of reps at right tackle – for those wondering if the team saw him more as a guard.

-- Love the decision to bring back Corey Peters. It can only help this team, and this locker room.

WR Rondale Moore makes a catch Monday.
WR Rondale Moore makes a catch Monday.