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Vikings Peterson & Breeland Know Threats Posed by Cardinals Hopkins & Green 

EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings defense has a couple of tall tasks ahead of them.

Minnesota will face Arizona at 3:05 p.m. (CT) Sunday, and you can bet Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer will have his defenders keyed in on Cardinals receivers DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green.

Zimmer spoke to Twin Cities media members Wednesday and called Hopkins, listed at 6-foot-1 and 212 pounds, a "terrific player" will keep the Vikings on their toes.

Hopkins may be a fairly new name in Arizona, but his résumé is well-known around the league.

Before he was traded to the Cardinals in 2020, Hopkins played seven seasons in Houston, missing just two regular-season games in that time span. He's started every game he's played since being drafted 27th overall by the Texans in 2013, and at 29 years old, he's shown no sign of slowing down.

The three-time First-Team All-Pro recorded 115 catches for the Cardinals last season, which tied his career high, and racked up 1,407 yards with six touchdowns.

Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson played 10 seasons in Arizona, including the 2020 campaign, before joining the Vikings as a free agent this spring. The veteran said he wasn't at all surprised by Hopkins' production last year.

"I won't necessarily say it was impressive because he's been doing that for as long as he's been in the league. He's been a 12-to-1,300-yard guy since Day 1," Peterson said. " 'Hop' is a great professional, takes care of his body, [and] obviously when Sunday rolls around, he's ready to play."

Asked about the qualities that define Hopkins' game, Peterson first emphasized his reliability in the passing game.

"You rarely see D-hop drop passes. He catches all of the contested throws," Peterson said of Hopkins, who last year had a career-high catch percentage at 75 percent. "You just have to make those windows a little bit tighter and be a little bit tighter with coverage. Just try as best as you can to make his day a living hell.

"D-hop is one of those receivers that invites the physicality of the DB. That's kind of how I play my game, as well," Peterson continued. "I want to be physical with the receivers and get in their head and [have them] thinking about me a little bit more. But D-hop is different. He invites that."

Vikings cornerback Bashaud Breeland also is excited for the challenge Hopkins — his college teammate for two seasons at Clemson — presents.

He highlighted Hopkins' catch radius, calling him a "possession receiver who can catch the ball" any way it's thrown to him.

"You've really got to key-in on him. He really makes other people go. When you key-in on him, other people get a chance to really show what they can do," Breeland said.

And while Hopkins may be the Cardinals No. 1 receiver, defenders can't overlook seven-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green. Hopkins, Green and Breeland are all South Carolina natives.

Measuring 6-4 and 210 pounds, Green still presents vertical threat downfield, even at 33 and after missing seven games in 2018 and all of 2019. Green's stats weren't especially flashy last season coming off a significant ankle injury, but Peterson and his teammates know full-well what Green is capable of.

"His résumé speaks for itself," Peterson said of the player picked one spot ahead of him in 2011. "Very, very talented receiver that can make all the catches. Still has a little juice to take the top off of the defense."

Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson was 12 years old when Cincinnati drafted Green fourth overall in 2011. He's been watching Green and Hopkins alike since their early days.

"I love D-Hop. I'm a big fan of D-Hop," Jefferson said. "He has tremendous hands. The way he catches the ball, the body control, he's phenomenal. He's a freak of nature in that category.

"A.J. Green, vertical threat, able to go deep," Jefferson added. "He's tall, lengthy, able to go get it."

Zimmer and Vikings Co-Defensive Coordinator Adam Zimmer both are plenty familiar with Green, whom each overlapped with in Cincinnati.

"Obviously, he's a really good player and we're going to have to go out there and execute, but I think we do have an idea of what his strengths and weaknesses are," Adam Zimmer said.

And echoing what Peterson said, Adam Zimmer also pointed to Hopkins' physicality.

"He's got really good size, and he knows how to use his hands, and he knows how to fight you at the line of scrimmage," he said.

The co-defensive coordinator recalled "really good battles" between Hopkins and former Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes.

"Xavier is a physical corner as well, and that was the first time I noticed that in Hopkins," Adam Zimmer said. "He definitely knows all the tricks of the trade on how to be physical and get off the press and get by him. He has huge hands and can go up and get the ball."

As the Vikings look to get in the win column Sunday, they'll be keeping Hopkins and Green on their radar.

"These guys have a well-rounded receiver corps that we have to be prepared for, because any one of those guys can make the big play," Peterson said.