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Joint Practice With Titans Brings Out The Best In Cardinals

Hopkins' one-handed grab, Murphy pick highlight needed work

Cardinals wide receiver Hollywood Brown goes out for a pass against Titans defensive back Tre Avery during a joint practice on Wednesday.
Cardinals wide receiver Hollywood Brown goes out for a pass against Titans defensive back Tre Avery during a joint practice on Wednesday.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – DeAndre Hopkins isn't going to play in the preseason, and he isn't going to play in the first six games of the regular season because of his suspension.

So maybe that made Wednesday's lone joint practice against the Tennessee Titans at St. Thomas Sports Park, where the Titans call home, a little more important for the veteran wide receiver.

"We were talking about it in the locker room," fellow wide receiver A.J. Green said. "He said, 'I'm going to go out there and one hand everything.'

"He talked about it. And he did it. That's one thing about him. When them lights come on, he's going to be ready."

Hopkins did have a spectacular one-handed grab among a couple of nice plucks, one of the highlights of a competitive but not overly intense practice. Coach Kliff Kingsbury warned off any fighting beforehand, tight end Trey McBride said, and none of the battles in one-on-ones, 7-on-7, or 11-on-11 two-minute work escalated to anything untoward.

One of the most heated moments actually came from quarterback Kyler Murray, who vocally made his displeasure known (to no one in particular) after a two-minute drill drive stalled following a couple of Cardinals penalties.

The Cardinals came out ahead in much of the two-minute drill work, intercepting Titans quarterbacks twice – including a leaping Byron Murphy end zone grab of a Ryan Tannehill throw – and with the Cardinals' offenses coming up with a touchdown and a field goal "drive."

And that was that. The Cardinals will practice on their own with a walkthrough Thursday at Vanderbilt University, injuries forcing the teams to scotch their second planned get-together.

"I like the one day," Kingsbury said. "It's kind of like my Vegas philosophy: 24 hours and I'm good."

New guard Cody Ford, acquired in a trade from the Bills on Monday, not only practiced with the Cardinals for the first time but was dropped into the first unit for the injured Justin Pugh at left guard.

"He's big and nasty," Kingsbury said. "We are excited for him to have picked enough up to go in there. It was pretty impressive."

Ford held his own in one-on-ones, which may or may not be important as the regular season nears. Right guard Will Hernandez was back at work, but aside from Pugh, center Rodney Hudson remains limited in his work.

The Cardinals are also banged up at wide receiver – Green was limited; Rondale Moore and Antoine Wesley remain sidelined – and at cornerback, where Antonio Hamilton is dealing with an undisclosed malady.

Most of the starters, who won't get game snaps in the preseason, did get a taste of battling another team's starters, finally.

"My favorite part was everything," safety Budda Baker said. "One-on-ones, 7s, two-minute. We'll get in all those situations in a game."

Baker even said the barking at the offense was fun.

"We still talk trash to our teammates (normally), but this is a new face," Baker said. "You can say the same jokes and it's the first time they're hearing it."

Kingsbury was the one who reached out to his former Patriots teammate and Titans coach Mike Vrabel to get together for the joint work. It's something Kingsbury would like to do most preseasons, as long as logistics allow.

Not playing most of the starters in preseason games is a philosophy Kingsbury is now embracing, so joint work makes even more sense.

It certainly brought out the best in Hopkins Wednesday.

"Any time you feel that competitive spirit lift up, here comes Hop," Kingsbury said. "I'm sure he's got some good content for his IG now."

Images of the Cardinals practicing with the Tennessee Titans at the Titans Practice Facility in Nashville