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Getting Physical With Michael Floyd

Posted Aug 6, 2014

Wide receiver's confidence has Cardinals believing in big year ahead

Wide receiver Michael Floyd beats Justin Bethel on a catch during a recent training camp practice.

The pass came toward Michael Floyd near the sideline, cornerback Justin Bethel was able to break up the connection, and Floyd showed little emotion.

The next play was a similar route near the same spot, and this time, the wide receiver violently banged into Bethel while grabbing the reception. This time, he wasn’t going to let Bethel have a chance.

“If I know I should get a play or get a catch somehow and they defend me in a certain way, it builds a certain energy in me that tells me I’ve got to go back out there and I’ve got to win this,” Floyd said, recalling such moments. “Carson (Palmer) believes in me that I have to win every single time. I believe that in myself too." For a player at what is often a finesse position, Floyd is anything but. His emergence last season in his first 1,000-yard season (65 receptions, 1,041 yards, five touchdowns) displayed the way he physically plays the position at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds.

With Floyd, it’s less about shielding out a defender as much as boxing him out – hard – in the quest to end up with the football. Floyd never looks angry. But he plays angry.

“I hate to compare guys, but in terms of his meanness, he has a lot of Anquan in him,” said fellow wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, referencing one-time teammate Anquan Boldin. “He’s not a lot of talk, there isn’t a lot of fluff with him, he’s business.”

The difference is that Boldin was and is a talker, and left little doubt that between the white lines the opponent was the enemy. Floyd isn’t the type to spout off. He’d just like to quietly get his job done, even if that means it gets rough once in a while.

Back in high school, Floyd played plenty of basketball. He averaged 23.5 points a game as a senior, and “that’s all I did – take a weaker guy than me and I would just take him down to the post.”

There are some similarities on the football field, Floyd said. And he won’t dismiss being the little brother of four older sisters either in terms of toughening him up. Mostly, though, he gets rough because that’s what football is.

“It’s a physical sport and if you are not physical you’re gonna get run out of the stadium,” Floyd said. “I always play like that and this year I will show more of that.”

Floyd’s maturation helps, although Fitzgerald – who has known Floyd, who is also from Minnesota, since Floyd was in high school – says that Floyd has always had a mature feel about him. There have been steps taken, though, like last season when Floyd was dealing with some minor injuries and was considering sitting out practice.

Arians strongly suggested Floyd work through such things, and Floyd ended up practicing. Even now, Arians notes that the receivers who are “catching balls on Wednesdays and Thursday” are the ones who will get it on Sundays.

Floyd will get his share of catches, regardless. Thanks to his physical nature, he can also go up and get a jump ball if needed, much like Fitzgerald. And with Fitzgerald getting older and Floyd improving, it’s fair to ask which receiver will be the Cardinals’ No. 1 guy this season.

Floyd, not surprisingly, shoots down such suggestions.

“There’s not a one, there’s not a two,” he said. “There is a group. Some plays are recommended for a certain individual but without that second guy, the first guy won’t be open. We all work together.”

Palmer said Floyd’s physical play overshadows his other traits, and that Floyd is able to play “small” and is quicker than expected. Cornerback Patrick Peterson said Floyd is just learning how to use his body, which is a scary notion for those who have already slammed into him during a play for the ball.

Combine that with a Floyd who fully understands the offense – he admittedly did not the first part of last season – and both he and the Cardinals believe an uptick in Floyd’s production is inevitable.

“It’s about his confidence,” Fitzgerald said. “When he’s playing with confidence, like he has been over the past year, he’s unstoppable. Cornerbacks don’t have a chance with him. He’s too physical. And he’s faster than people get him credit for.

“He’s a monster.”

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