Michael Floyd emerges with experience

TEMPE, Ariz. – All it took for Michael Floyd to emerge as the receiver the Cardinals thought he’d be was a shoulder so sore he struggles to throw an overhand pass.

Two weeks ago, Floyd was questionable for the Jacksonville game with a sprained A/C joint. After being challenged by Arizona coach Bruce Arians to practice that week, the second-year receiver broke loose for 193 yards in Florida. A week later he had 104 against Indianapolis.

To the causal observer, Floyd looks fine. How else could he have 100 yards in back-to-back games for the first time since Larry Fitzgerald did it in 2011? But Floyd’s not totally healthy yet and he’s still playing at the highest level of his career. During practice Friday, Floyd tried playing catch with an assistant coach when he grimaced and grabbed his right shoulder after an overhand throw. From then on, he tossed the ball underhand.

“It’s going to stay sore the rest of the season, probably,” Arians said. “It’s just one of those things you have to fight through and play on Sunday.”

Sundays this season are quite different then Sunday’s last season for Floyd.

He’s the Cardinals' No. 2 receiver, behind Fitzgerald and in front of Andre Roberts, and he has a significant role in Arians’ two-wide receiver, two tight-end offense. Floyd has also improved his ball-catching, going from a receiver who had to catch the ball on his chest to someone who can catch a pass over his shoulder.

All it took was a year of experience.

“I would say that – 100 percent,” Floyd said. “Just being more comfortable out there on the field, getting more reps, just believing in yourself that you can get the job done and basically having that year under you, you realize that you’re a lot more comfortable, you realize what’s going on out there. You become yourself.”

If Floyd made this kind of jump between his first and second seasons, imagine what he’ll do between years two and three.

Already through 11 games, he’s topped all his numbers from last season. His 49 receptions are four more than in 2012. He has 761 yards heading into Sunday’s game at Philadelphia compared to 562 in all of last season. His three touchdowns are one more than he had last year.

Floyd’s also making more big plays. His 91-yard touchdown against the Jags is the longest score of his career and he has 12 chunk catches, plays of 20 yards or more, compared to six last season. And his 35 first downs are more than he had in 2012 and are tied for the team lead.

Arians has liked Floyd since evaluating him before the 2012 draft.

“He’s a big guy and he played big,” Arians said. “There are a lot of big guys out there that don’t play big, and he can go up and [get] the ball off their head and make those types of plays. That’s what we expect out of him, but he’s becoming a very efficient route runner and a very sure-handed player.

“He’s also done a great job with blocking. He’s a big, physical guy. Right now, he’s becoming a complete package.”

While Floyd tried to downplay his past two games, it’s impossible to ignore his growth since last year. He spent the offseason working on his body. He’s leaner because he’s eating better.

The improvements to his body and his game are all paying off for Floyd.

“When you’re most comfortable out there, you become yourself,” he said. “It’s just like playing backyard football.”