Larry Fitzgerald: Kyler Murray can carry the Cardinals during DeAndre Hopkins’ absence

All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins missed eight games last season, and the Cardinals went 3-5, including the wild-card playoff loss to the Rams. The Cardinals won’t have Hopkins for the first six games of this season after he violated the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

Former Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, though, expresses confidence in Kyler Murray to step up and keep the team competitive the first six games.

“Obviously, the schedule’s really tough early in the season,” Fitzgerald told MJ Acosta-Ruiz of NFL Media. “I know they’re going to be without Hop, but I know Kyler has the ability and the fortitude to be able to lift this team up.”

The Cardinals play the Chiefs, Raiders, Rams, Panthers, Eagles and Seahawks in the games Hopkins will miss. Murray will have to make do with Marquise Brown, A.J. Green and Rondale Moore, among others, so he obviously is not devoid of talent at the position. Murray also has tight end Zach Ertz and running back James Conner to lean on.

“There’s nobody in the game as talented as, as diverse an array of abilities in terms of his athleticism, his ability to throw the ball going left or right,” Fitzgerald said of Murray, who were teammates in 2019-20. “He’s immensely talented. He’s a guy that everybody around the league has to prepare differently for. You bring in [Brown]; Zach Ertz is now coming into his second year; (and he’s) better acclimated with the system. James Conner is fully healthy going back into the year. I really like where they are positioned.”

Murray, though, wants a new deal, which is something to watch as training camp and the season opener draws ever closer. It’s doubtful the Cardinals would stay competitive without Hopkins AND Murray.

Murray is the only player in NFL history with 70 touchdown passes and 20 rushing touchdowns in his first three seasons, according to NFL Research. He joins Cam Newton as one of only two players in history to post 10,000-plus passing yards and more than 1,500 rushing yards in his first three seasons.