Kyler Murray will dominate headlines when the Cardinals come to Chicago to take on the Bears this weekend. But defending DeAndre Hopkins will be just as challenging for the secondary. No. 1 cornerback Jaylon Johnson explained on Wednesday what makes guarding him so tough.
“Him tracking the ball and being very deceptive on when the ball’s coming,” Johnson said. “You kinda see subtle movements when the ball’s really in the air to kinda get the DB off balance, thinking the ball is coming somewhere where it’s really not. Just little things like that that he’s learned over the years. He has tremendous catch radius. Being able to track the ball and make tough catches.”
It’s unclear whether Matt Nagy and Sean Desai will have Johnson shadow Hopkins, as he has done at other points this season against top-tier wideouts, but he is likely to defend him quite a bit. No matter how often he lines up against Hopkins, Johnson is excited for the opportunity to measure himself against one of the best in the business.
“Just ready to see it, see what it looks like, see what it feels like,” Johnson said. “It’s easy to say what somebody can do on film or somebody is this or somebody is not that. At the end of the day, you gotta go out there and you gotta line up. I’m looking forward to it.”
Injuries have limited Hopkins to only eight games this year, but in those eight games he’s left his mark. While he doesn’t dominate target share like he used to, he still scores at a high rate, with seven touchdowns in those eight games. Hopkins' availability for Sunday is still up in the air, but according to Arizona beat reporters, he returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since late October.
Like a true CB1, Johnson is confident he’ll be able to keep up with Hopkins if he does play.
“It’s not anything I haven’t faced already. I feel like I’ve faced a pretty good amount of wide receiver 1s. At the end of the day, for me, it’s just staying true to who I am, being confident in my preparation, being confident in my ability and going out there and performing the same way I have all year.”