Stephon Gilmore vs. DeAndre Hopkins. Get your popcorn ready.
Gilmore, the New England Patriots’ No. 1 cornerback, all but confirmed Wednesday he’ll be covering Hopkins when the Patriots host the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Asked during an interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak & Bertrand” which Cardinals receiver he’ll be assigned to, Gilmore replied: “I think everybody knows.”
That’s no surprise. Gilmore is the Patriots’ top cover man, and Hopkins, the former Houston Texans star, is one of the NFL’s elite wideouts, leading the league in receiving yards (912) and ranking third in catches (72) through 11 weeks.
Adding to the intrigue of this already-enticing matchup are the barbs Gilmore and Hopkins traded on Twitter after last year’s Patriots-Texans clash, which Houston won 28-22.
Hopkins posted a photo of himself catching a pass against Gilmore and insinuated New England frequently double-covered him. Gilmore disputed that claim.
“Bro was doubled on only 2 snaps all game and wants to be loud lol,” the cornerback tweeted.
Gilmore was correct, for the record.
The Patriots doubled Hopkins on just two of their 56 defensive snaps, hitting him with a mix of man and zone coverage on the other 54. Unfortunately for New England, both of those snaps resulted in touchdown passes to other Texans players (one to Duke Johnson, one to Kenny Stills).
Hopkins has been consistently productive against the Patriots over the years but has yet to enjoy a truly excellent game against Bill Belichick’s defense.
In three meetings since Gilmore’s arrival in 2017, Hopkins has caught seven, eight and five passes for 76, 78 and 64 yards. The four-time Pro Bowler also has yet to catch a touchdown pass in six career games against the Patriots, and none of those six performances rank in his personal top 50 in terms of receiving yardage.
This will be the Patriots’ first time seeing Hopkins since he was shipped from Houston to Arizona in a much-maligned trade this past offseason.
Gilmore, the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2019, played well Sunday in a 27-20 loss to Hopkins’ former team after missing the previous three games with a knee injury.