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Dynamic Duo On The Field: DeAndre Hopkins, Kyler Murray Begin Practice Prep For Bears

Wide receiver hadn't practiced since Oct. 22; Both limited Wednesday

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins makes a catch during Wednesday's practice.
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins makes a catch during Wednesday's practice.

There have been times, Kyler Murray admitted, when his mind drifted back to that fateful play against the Packers – not the interception that ended the Cardinals' hopes, but the play before, during which he wrenched his ankle.

What could he had done differently to avoid the injury, and avoid this month of games he has missed?

"All this stuff plays with your head until you get back on the field," Murray said Wednesday. "It can eat at you. But I am over it at this point. I'm in a good headspace."

The other space Murray and Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins were at Wednesday was the practice field. Murray got work before the bye even though he was inactive against the Seahawks, but Hopkins' turn was the first time he had practiced since Oct. 22, two days before the win against the Texans.

Do both play Sunday in Chicago? Murray is "hopeful." Coach Kliff Kingsbury, once again, played it cautious, noting both were limited as the Cards resumed work after the bye.

"We wanted to make sure they feel good and ease them back into the week," Kingsbury said. "(Thursday) we'll have pads on and hopefully they can do a little bit more."

Hopkins did not speak to the media, but his reappearance was important after so much time missed with a hamstring injury. The latest weather forecast for the Bears game is about 45 degrees and possible rain, but Kingsbury said weather wouldn't be a factor in using Hopkins despite his injury.

Hopkins' long stretch without practicing or playing? That's a different story.

"We've just got to be smart with how we use him if he's able to go," Kingsbury said. "Maximize him the best we can and make sure we don't wear him out."

Murray, who like Hopkins hasn't played since the Packers game, is doing more in practice. He said the first few live reps he took Wednesday "felt like I had been doing it the past three, four weeks."

"More so it's mental, staying in the game," Murray said, adding he wanted to "prepare myself for when I do come back that I don't feel clueless out there."

Perhaps, Murray said, there could be some adjustment for the rest of the offense with Murray and Hopkins coming back, particularly with the offensive line and Murray's cadence or depth of drop – "If we're trying to be technical," Murray said – but mostly he thinks the duo's return to the lineup will be easy.

He isn't the only one.

"I trust their preparation," running back James Conner said. "They are pros. I know over the bye week they did what they needed to do, and I know what they'll do this week to prepare and be ready. I'm not worried about Hop and K1 at all. They'll be ready."

Whatever rust may face Hopkins and Murray, Kingsbury's concern ranks low, especially compared to the caution given to just making sure both are healthy to return.

"These guys have played a lot of football," Kingsbury said. "I don't expect there to be some long drawn-out kind of recovery period for them to get acclimated and playing at a high level again."

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