When he wants, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick can be effusive in his praise for certain personalities around the league.
It has been evident in the past with the likes of Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, Patriots legends James White and Tedy Bruschi and even punter Johnny Hekker. This season alone, Belichick has shared kind words about Rhamondre Stevenson, Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku and others.
The most recent recipient has been Arizona Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins, who the Patriots were tasked with slowing down this past week. Belichick called Hopkins “every bit as good as anybody I’ve ever coached against” prior to the two teams taking the field Monday night, and doubled down when he was face-to-face with the three-time All-Pro.
Here’s a transcript of the exchange, courtesy of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”
Belichick: “I’m glad we only have to play you every four years, man.”
Hopkins: “I love you, man.”
Belichick: “You, too. You, too. What a career you’re having. You missed half the season, still going to lead the league in receiving.”
Hopkins: ” You know I do my job, man. Trying to get better, man.”
Hopkins didn’t have his greatest night, catching seven balls for 79 yards. Those numbers are respectable, but the veteran also had a costly fumble that directly led to six points for the Patriots. New England would go on to win the contest, 27-13, to take control of the AFC’s final playoff spot.
Belichick has long drawn the admiration of different players around the league, causing many to pencil them in as “Future Patriots.” Hopkins does have two years remaining on his current contract, though there is a potential out following this season. Could the Patriots be a team destined to land the five-time Pro Bowler? Surely both of these parties would love that.