Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Deandre Hopkins will not be making his return to the field on Monday against the Los Angeles Rams for the Wild Card Round matchup, coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters on Wednesday.
Hopkins continues his recovery process from a knee injury that required surgery following the Cardinals' Week 14 loss to the Rams at State Farm Stadium.
During Hopkins' absence, the Cardinals have relied on A.J. Green, Christian Kirk and Zach Ertz as their core group of pass-catchers to carry the load. Ertz, a trade deadline pickup, has appeared to develop a strong bond in catching passes from quarterback Kyler Murray this season, registering 574 yards and three touchdowns after his arrival to his new club.
As for pass-rusher J.J. Watt, who suffered a shoulder injury during the Cardinals' Week 7 win over the Houston Texans – his game status sits in question. The Cardinals are hopeful he can go through practice this week but will have a better gauge of where he's at in making his return as things further progress closer to game-day, Kingsbury said.
Watt told reporters Wednesday he won't be suiting up if he's physically not ready enough to do his job properly, so monitoring his status per the injury report will give insight as to how much he's involved throughout each day's practice.
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The Cardinals suffered a severe dropoff down the final stretch of the season after getting off to a 7-1 start. The subtractions of Watt and Hopkins – two stars on each side of the ball – played into their downhill spiral, having to rely on other players to step up into more prominent roles.
The Rams and Cardinals split the season series during the regular season, each winning as the road team. Kickoff for the Rams and Cardinals Wild Card game is scheduled for Monday at 5:15 p.m. PT at SoFi Stadium.
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