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NFL suspends Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins six games for violating PED policy

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included an erroneous description of the test result that led to Hopkins' suspension. Language from the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances on the circumstances in which a first-time violation would result in an eight-game suspension was incorrectly applied to Hopkins' six-game suspension. That description has been removed.

The Cardinals will be without star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games of the 2022 season.

Hopkins has been suspended six games without pay by the NFL for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday, per a source. Hopkins withdrew his appeal, according to Rapoport.

ESPN first reported the news.

"DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals has been suspended without pay for the first six games of the 2022 regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances," an NFL spokesperson said in an official statement. "Hopkins is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games. He will be allowed to return to the Cardinals' active roster following the team's sixth regular-season game."

Hopkins released a statement via social media expressing that he was "confused and shocked" that he tested positive.

"In my 10-year NFL career, I have never tested positive for using performance enhancing drugs," Hopkins' statement read. "To learn that my November test came back with trace elements of a banned substance, I was confused and shocked.

"I am very mindful of what I put it in my body and have always taken a holistic approach, so I am working with my team to investigate how this could've happened. But even as careful as I have been, clearly I wasn't careful enough. For that, I apologize to Cardinals fans, my teammates, and the entire Cardinals organization. I never want to let my team down.

"I fully intend to get to the bottom of this. As soon as I have more information I will share it."

Monday's news brings more context behind the Cardinals' trade with the Ravens for wideout Marquise Brown during the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, which came at the cost of Arizona's No. 23 overall pick. The Cardinals also saw the free-agent departure of Christian Kirk this offseason, making the absence of Hopkins all that more crucial.

Hopkins missed seven games last year due to multiple injuries, one of which a knee injury that required surgery. The Cardinals were 3-4 in those games and scored 16 or fewer points in three of those defeats. Hopkins had a chance at a return if the Cardinals went deep into the playoffs, but Arizona was ousted in the Super Wild Card Round to the Los Angeles Rams. He's now on track to miss 11-straight games for the Cardinals.

Hopkins, 29, grew into one the NFL's premier pass-catchers through the first nine seasons of his career. A three-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl receiver, Hopkins came to Arizona ahead of the 2020 season via trade from the Houston Texans. In 26 games, Hopkins produced 157 receptions for 1,979 yards and 14 touchdowns in his two seasons with the Cardinals.

The suspension of Hopkins adds to a delicate offseason in the desert that has been largely dominated by both Kyler Murray's contract and social media accounts. For a Cardinals team that looks to rebound from the a disappointing 2021 season that began as the NFL's last undefeated team, the 2022 campaign is starting off on the wrong foot.

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