TEMPE, Ariz. -- In one of the most poignant rants about practicing since Allen Iverson's famous comments in 2002, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins defended his practice habits on Wednesday.
Yes, Hopkins, one of the Cardinals' franchise players, was, indeed, talking about practice. Not a game. Practice.
Hopkins has come under fire for missing a number of practices this season, but the lack of practice time hasn't mattered to the NFL's leading receiver, who has 1,324 yards and was named to his fifth Pro Bowl on Monday.
Out of 41 practices thus far this season Hopkins has missed 18, with 13 coming on Wednesdays, 10 of which were for veteran days off, according to the Cardinals' injury reports. He has missed five practices with an ankle injury, including all of Week 4 and two-thirds of Week 7. He missed one practice in Week 12 with an illness, and another practice in Week 13 with neck and back issues.
He also has been limited three times.
The only week Hopkins hasn't been listed on the injury report was in Week 6, when the Cardinals played at the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.
But Hopkins has yet to miss a game in his first season with the Cardinals. Hopkins blamed the local media in Arizona for fueling the criticism of his practice schedule, saying his grandfather monitors the local sports shows and reports any negative comments to Hopkins.
"Yeah, man, I've heard a lot of a lot of negativity about me not practicing when I first came to Arizona," he said. "I don't watch the Arizona local news and channels and the sports station, but my grandfather, he's an avid listener to everything and every single one. I think, if one of you guys say something bad about me, my grandfather, he's told me. So, I've seen all the blogs and all this stuff, I'm pretty sure some of you guys might have been in there egging it on, but I'm not gonna say any names.
"But, there's a reason that I play football and they watch. And there's a reason that people are in positions for a reason. So, I really didn't listen to it. I don't listen to it. I listen to my grandfather, and he was saying, 'Man, Arizona, they really kind of on you right now because you're not practicing and all the critics in the sports people,' but, my grandfather knows who I am, also, and he knows how productive I am on that football field. And he knew what I was going through, and the people who are giving me stuff, they don't know what I was going through or dealing with, and I don't let my news, or really what's going on with me, be publicized for the future."
Hopkins offered to be a guest on local sports shows but said he charges for news appearances, although news organizations make it a practice not to pay for guests; he said he would charge outlets that criticized him a reduced fee.
"And tell those people who say I don't practice," Hopkins said, "to come watch me play the game."