Losing wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is a big blow to the Arizona Cardinals' offense. The explosive wide receiver tore his MCL in Week 14, just his second game back from a hamstring injury, and will miss the rest of the regular season after reportedly having knee surgery.
Since the Cardinals are hoping they'll play beyond the four final regular-season games, there's a chance Hopkins could return and help the Cardinals in the playoffs. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Hopkins' six-week recovery timetable after surgery would allow him to return for the NFC championship game or possibly the Super Bowl — if they get that far, of course. But Schefter also reported that it's "unrealistic" to expect Hopkins to make it back onto the field sooner than that.
Cardinals’ WR DeAndre Hopkins, who tore his MCL last week, “could be back” for the NFC Championship Game or Super Bowl if the Cardinals were to make it that far, per source. But it would be “unrealistic” to expect him to return any earlier, said the source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 19, 2021
Hopkins has dealt with injuries on and off this season for the first time in his career. He was fine until Week 8, when he injured his hamstring against the Green Bay Packers. He left the game in the first quarter and eventually returned in the third, but those would be the last minutes he'd play for six weeks.
He finally returned in Week 13 against the Chicago Bears, playing 25% of the offensive snaps and snagging two catches on two targets. He started Week 14 against the Los Angeles Rams, and played nearly all of the game, but was knocked out with just over a minute to go when two Rams defenders landed on top of his legs after he jumped up to try to make an end zone catch.
The Cardinals are 10-3 and are in a three-way tie for best record in the NFC. They face the Detroit Lions in Week 15, but things get considerably harder after that with games against the Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks. One game separates the Cards and Rams in the NFC West.