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Receiver Roulette: Cardinals Have Hop Sighting As Wideout Room Keeps Spinning

Wesley can return from IR for Eagles and Green also could play

Quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver Hollywood Brown during Sunday's win in Carolina.
Quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver Hollywood Brown during Sunday's win in Carolina.

Marquise Brown had just come back into the locker room with some food and as he walked toward his locker, DeAndre Hopkins appeared.

Hopkins is still suspended. He can't play until the Saints game Oct. 20 – two more games to sit – and he can't practice. But he can be at the facility to start to get acclimated, or in this case, chat with the Cardinals' other top wide receiver and share a bite of food.

That Antoine Wesley at one point joined the conversation, and that it took place a couple of yards from the empty locker of the released Andy Isabella, underscored the volatility of the position four game into the season. For an offense struggling to find some – any – consistency, the Cardinals need to settle down the wide receiver room.

"My very first college coach, his saying was, 'It's not about the x's and the o's, it's about the Jimmys and the Joes,' " coach Kliff Kingsbury said with a laugh. "You find that out quick when guys like (Hopkins), who are all-time greats are no longer a part of your offense.

"I've been proud of the way our staff and our quarterback have handled that this year, trying to find ways to win, even though it hasn't always been pretty. We haven't played great on offense, we haven't coached great on offense, but to be 2-2 with the things going on, it'll lead to positive things down the road."

The wide receiver reset for the upcoming game against the Eagles is this: Still no Hopkins. No Isabella, although he was clearly not a big part of the equation. Wesley is trending toward being activated from IR by this weekend, another tall target to potentially go with the currently day-to-day A.J. Green.

Rondale Moore's first game back showed no physical limitations, but he didn't make an impact. And then there is Greg Dortch still available but clearly pushed down the depth chart with Moore's return. Then there is Brown, who has played two excellent games in a row.

Meanwhile, quarterback Kyler Murray has thrown for 300 yards only once – although offensive production is down across the league – and the Cardinals have just one pass play of 30 yards this season.

But Murray continues to stick to his belief that any receiving group out there can do the job.

"If anything I'm excited for those guys to be (almost) back," Murray said. "Tweezy, Hop, it's a different vibe, a different energy that they bring back to the game, to the team, that the team has missed. It's hard to fill that void. They bring that juice every day to the locker room, to practice, talk a lot. Makes everyone feel better."

Kingsbury addressed Isabella's release, saying "I think the world of him." Isabella passed through waivers unclaimed on Wednesday before signing to the Ravens practice squad, and Kingsbury said "he can play in this league."

Isabella was caught behind Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk when he first arrived, Kingsbury said, and it stunted Isabella's development. The Cardinals had all three of their 2019 drafted wideouts – Isabella, Hakeem Butler and KeeSean Johnson – wash out.

But Kingsbury wouldn't say wide receiver was any more difficult to evaluate than other draftees, only that a receiver has to be put somewhere to maximize his skillset.

The comings and goings should soon come out with the Cardinals ahead – especially when Hopkins is available again.

The last time the Cardinals played the Eagles in 2020, Hopkins had nine receptions for 169 yards and the game-winning touchdown. The Cardinals have to find a way to get some of that production this week without him as usual.

"You'd love to be able to hit some deep shots every game but you watch across the league sometimes it's not there," Murray said. "You have to be willing to take the underneath stuff. It's tough when you are a young quarterback, learning that. But in Year 4, I've dealt with it."

PRACTICE SQUAD MOVE

The Cardinals placed offensive lineman Lachavious Simmons on Injured Reserve/Practice Squad, and re-signed offensive lineman Koda Martin to the practice squad.

Images of the Cardinals practicing at the Dignity Health Sports Complex before the Week 5 regular season matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles

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