The undefeated run of the Notre Dame football team not unexpectedly been a source of joy for a certain Cardinals rookie wide receiver.
“I always like to see the guys doing well, especially since they are doing better than when I was there,” said Michael Floyd, who graduated from the school this summer.
The Irish’s BCS push has come along around the same time as their most recent star product’s rise in the NFL. The ascent of Floyd in the Cardinals’ offense was slow but not unexpected, not with veterans like
The Cards’ No. 1 draft pick is one of the players coach Ken Whisenhunt said is headed for more work after the team’s bye thanks to his improvement.
“I think Michael has worked his way into playing more,” Whisenhunt said after being asked about “outsiders” expecting Floyd to play more sooner. “We’ve got some receivers who are playing pretty good in front of him. Andre’s got what? How many touchdowns? (Five). He’s playing pretty good. So what do you do, play him over Andre?
“Michael has been playing well. He’s going to be worked into the offense more and deservedly so. I think it sends the right message to your team when that happens.”
Floyd has already been playing a little more the past two games, getting in on more than 60 percent of the offensive plays. Most of the season, that number has been hovering around 40 to 45 percent (only in New England, when Floyd played in only six of 65 snaps, has Floyd played less than 30 percent of the offensive plays.)
His targets, however, have increased significantly. After being targeted 18 times in the Cardinals’ first seven games (making eight catches), Floyd has been targeted 18 times in the past two games alone (with 10 receptions.)
Floyd shook his head when asked about whether he was expecting more playing time. “Nope,” he said. “When my number is called, I go out and make the play when it comes my way.” He said he feels much more comfortable in the offense than earlier in the season, acknowledging he was “kind of sluggish” at first.
Both Fitzgerald and Roberts have been around Floyd since the start. Not only did they work with him at the minicamps and OTAs after Floyd was drafted, both Roberts and Floyd were around for almost all of Fitzgerald’s four-week “camp” the Pro Bowler holds in July in Minnesota.
Fitzgerald believes even in limited work, Floyd has shown his playmaking abilities, which was Fitzgerald’s expectation.
“He’s only going to get better,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s handled (a lack of playing time) well. Obviously it’s probably the first time in his life he hasn’t started and been the focal point. He’s adjusted.”
Roberts is enjoying his best season, and whether that coincides with Floyd’s arrival is anyone’s guess (Roberts did play well the second half of 2011, long before Floyd was a consideration.) He also got off to a slow start as a rookie, although as a third-round pick he didn’t have the same expectations.
“You just tell him he is a rookie and he has time,” Roberts said. “Everybody has been through it.
“Being a receiver, just like all of us, you want the ball on every play. You can’t get it every play, but we want the ball in our hands so we can do something with it. Being patient is something we have to do because we know we won’t get it every single play.”
Floyd has never complained about his role. He has carried with him the same talking points since training camp – he’ll make his plays when asked. However much that might be.
“I don’t feel that much pressure,” Floyd said. “I know my ability is to make plays and that’s why they chose me. I need to make big plays and keep the chains moving on third downs, and I have all the confidence in the world I can make those plays.”