Cardinals putting together a “great plan” for DeAndre Hopkins’ return

Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins has not played since Dec. 13. He won’t play again until at least Oct. 20.

Hopkins is working his way back from an injury to his medial collateral ligament that required surgery, and he will have to serve a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy before he can return to the field.

The Cardinals were “really cautious” with him in the offseason program and will take a targeted approach in training camp.

“We’re trying to come up with a great plan that rolls right up to Week 7 of the season and make sure we’re smart about it,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said, via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN. “But the main thing I don’t want him to do is ramp up, make a bunch of plays in training camp, do this, practice really hard and then six weeks he’s not doing anything.”

The Cardinals will have Hopkins on a pitch count, per Weinfuss, as Kingsbury wants to minimize Hopkins’ reps while making sure he gets quality field and speed time.

Hopkins was running without a brace at the start of minicamp practices and did individual drills on the side.

“We have a good plan,” Kingsbury said. “But he looks great. He’s excited. I know he’s frustrated he can’t play the first six, but like I’ve said before, I think we’ll get the best version of them those last 11 and [it’ll] be fun to watch.”

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has missed Hopkins when the receiver has been out of the lineup. His completion percentage is 69 percent with Hopkins and 64 percent without him, and the quarterback’s yards per attempt falls from 7-1 to 6.7 without Hopkins.