Tigers in the NFL: Hopkins Fitting In With Cardinals

Brad Senkiw

DeAndre Hopkins didn't need a full season or even a full month to make his presence felt for the 2-0 Arizona Cardinals.

The former Clemson receiver has already set the NFL record for the most receptions (22) in his first two games with a new franchise. Hopkins has 219 yards and one touchdown on 25 targets. 

“Hopkins is unreal,” Matt Patricia, head coach of the Detroit Lions and the Cardinals' opponent Sunday, said. “He’s a phenomenal player. This guy can run every route, he gets open, he’s got great hands, he’s got great body control, he’s a go-to guy for them and I think that was really a great addition for them on the offensive side of the ball.” 

Hopkins proved right out of the gate that he's a great fit for head coach Kliff Kingsbury's offense and quarterback Kyler Murray when Hopkins had 14 receptions in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers. 

Hopkins added eight more catches against the Washington Football Team last Sunday and even took the blame for a Murray interception. 

"I think the interception that he threw last week was definitely my fault," Hopkins said Tuesday. "I ran the wrong route, so the safety wouldn't have been there if it wasn't for me running the wrong route."

Murray shook it off as a miscommunication between two players who haven't had much time to work together. But for the NFL leader in receptions through two weeks, it looks like these two have been playing together for years. 

Hopkins was traded from the Houston Texans to the Cardinals in the offseason, a move that could help Arizona take the next step in the second year under Kingsbury. 

"I feel very confident in this offense, especially the way I prepare, the way they coach things," Hopkins said. "It's not the simplest offense, but if you put your mind to it, and your mindset that you're going to master it, then you're going to get it done."

Watson also makes NFL history 

Hopkins wasn't the only Tiger to make history last week. Former national-title winning quarterback Deshaun Watson became an elite list of one last Sunday in Houston's 33-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. 

Watson became the first QB in NFL history to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in his first 40 career games. 

Sunday at 1 p.m., he'll look to get the Texans their first win of the season against the 2-0 Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Brown added to practice squad

Former Clemson receiver Jaron Brown is back in Arizona. The former Cardinal who spent five seasons with the franchise signed a deal to join the practice squad Wednesday. 

Brown had 86 catches for 1,177 yards and nine touchdowns in his playing stint in Arizona before spending the last two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. He was briefly signed by the 49ers this offseason before being released. 

Thursday night Tigers

Three former Clemson players could see action in Thursday Night Football when the Miami Dolphins head to the Jacksonville Jaguars at 8:20 p.m. on the NFL Network. Defensive linemen Christian Wilkins, who has nine tackles this season, and Shaq Lawson, who has four tackles, will suit up for the Dolphins.  

Offensive lineman Tyler Shatley is a backup for the Jaguars. 

Other Clemson standouts 

  • Ray-Ray McCloud might have finally found a home in the NFL. The former Clemson receiver and returner ranks second in the NFL with 32.3 yards per kick return through two weeks. McCloud has a long return of 49 yards. 
  • Las Vegas Raiders' fourth-round NFL draft pick John Simpson made his debut Monday night and is slated to start at left guard while Richie Incognito is out with an injury, beginning with Sunday's 1 p.m. game at New England. 
  • K'Von Wallace, a fourth-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles, recovered a fumble on special teams last week against the Rams and could be in line for more playing time in the secondary against Tee Higgins and the Cincinnati Bengals at 1 p.m. Sunday.