Steelers tasked with stopping NFL’s ‘second-best receiver,’ DeAndre Hopkins
In a nod to the Steelers’ Antonio Brown, defensive coordinator Keith Butler called DeAndre Hopkins “the second-best wide receiver in the league.”
Monday, Butler’s defense will be tasked with limiting Hopkins, who is second in the NFL to Brown in receiving yards but leads the league with 12 touchdown receptions. No player in the NFL is more targeted by passes than Hopkins (168), and according to NFL Next Gen Stats no player is responsible for a bigger share of his team’s targeted air yards than Hopkins (44.5 percent).
“He does a great job running routes,” Butler said, “and he does a great job combating for the catch. He is going to be a major problem for us to try and stop so we have a lot of respect for him. We have some things we are going to try to do to limit him as much as we can. I don’t think you can stop him. I think you just try to minimize him as much as you can. You’re not going to stop him.”
As for who, exactly, will be assigned with stopping Hopkins, Steelers cornerback Joe Haden said the team won’t veer from their typical defensive strategy of having a right outside cornerback (Artie Burns), a left outside cornerback (Haden) and a slot cornerback (Mike Hilton) to cover opposing receivers.
“So however (the Texans) do it, we’ll be ready,” Haden said. “I faced him a couple times in Cleveland. Super physical dude; we had some great battles… he’s a great player.”
Haden said he works out, at times, with Hopkins in the offseason.