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Can A.J. Green Step Up After DeAndre Hopkins Injury?

  • The Draft Network
  • December 15, 2021
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The Arizona Cardinals have been incredibly banged up as of late. Superstar quarterback Kyler Murray recently returned from a three-game absence. Starting running back Chase Edmonds continues to nurse a high-ankle sprain and hasn't made an appearance since Week 9. Five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was also struggling to overcome a hamstring injury that recently cost him three games. Hopkins returned in a limited capacity, but the former Houston Texan is now expected to miss the remainder of the regular season, per a report from Adam Schefter and Jeremy Fowler. A leg injury led Hopkins to undergo an MRI while receiving a second opinion, which will now reportedly place him on the sidelines until the beginning of the playoffs, at least. 

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury has done an excellent job weathering the storm. The astounding contributions from role players such as James Conner (who’s also banged up) have allowed Arizona to keep their heads above water. 

Uncertainty at the offensive skill positions led to a rather intriguing resurgence for receiver A.J. Green on Monday night. The 33-year-old Green secured a season-high seven receptions and 102 receiving yards on 10 targets. It was Green's second 100-yard game of the season, and the seven-time Pro Bowler appears poised to continue his impressive bounce-back campaign. Sunday's upcoming matchup with the 1-11-1 Detroit Lions represents a favorable one for the excellent Cardinals. Detroit is currently allowing 27.2 points per contest, which equates to the fourth-worst mark in the league. With Hopkins now unavailable for the foreseeable future, Green should be in line for a heavy workload as Murray’s top target to close out the regular season.

Green's campaign has been marred by inconsistency, but the potential Canton-bound receiver has proven his worth on several occasions. A savvy veteran that's still capable of creating separation, Green has recorded at least 50 receiving yards in seven contests. The former Cincinnati Bengal has already posted more yards in 2021 than he has since 2017 and is astoundingly averaging the most yards per reception (15.6) since 2011 (16.3). Murray is an off-script extraordinaire at quarterback and Green is thriving alongside his signal-caller while making explosive plays in the passing game.

Kingsbury's Cardinals possess an abundance of excellent pass-catchers and his scheme spreads defenses thin on a week-by-week basis. Green's second chapter has proved to be a worthwhile one. 

Hopkins routinely serves as the No. 1 option in Arizona's offense when he's in the lineup, and rightfully so. Hopkins is arguably the best pass-catcher in the league and saw a season-high 12 targets in Monday night's loss to the Los Angeles Rams. His impending multi-game absence will undeniably be felt but it will free up a ton of touches in Arizona's high-scoring offense. Look for Green to be on the receiving end of several of those newly available opportunities, with the potential to reach double-digit targets on a weekly basis from here on out.

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