FLAGSTAFF – Michael Floyd talks in clichés, although it doesn’t come across as rehearsed. Not after teammate
If Floyd has tangible goals, the Cardinals’ No. 1 draft pick is keeping them to himself. Numbers themselves aren’t what Floyd mentions when the idea of his initial impact can be.
“I just want to get on the field and be productive,” Floyd said. “I want to help the team any way I can. When the ball comes to me, it’s my time to make a play. They expect me to make a play and be successful and that’s what I’m going to do.”
The past five seasons, there have been 16 first-round wide receivers to play in the NFL as rookies (a 17th first-rounder, Robert Meachem, was injured his entire rookie campaign.) Their average production was 43 catches, 616 yards and four touchdowns.
Several have bettered those marks, although only two – Cincinnati’s A.J. Green, the No. 4 overall pick last year and Atlanta's Julio Jones, the No. 6 pick – have topped 800 yards. Rookie receivers, even the top choices, often don’t explode on the scene as can rookies at other positions. Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, for instance, only had 48 catches for 756 yards and four touchdowns in his first year.
Even Larry Fitzgerald wasn’t eye-popping as a first-year player, although his 58-780-8 line would be impressive if Floyd could match.
“Michael has a unique opportunity,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s not going to be asked to carry the full load. He’ll have a nice complementary role until he gets comfortable in there and he can get featured more and more. He’s confident in his ability, that’s what I really like about him.”
Fitzgerald, who like Floyd is from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, has known Floyd for a long time. He is a believer in what Floyd can become. But everyone involved knows there are steps for Floyd to take. Veterans like
Floyd understands that. For the fans calling for Floyd to be in the starting lineup now – “I hear them,” he said – the Notre Dame product said “it doesn’t matter.”
“Andre, who I’m behind, is a great wide receiver,” Floyd said. “And Early. And Larry. It’s about developing. You can’t just come in here and start automatically, even if you are a first-round pick. You’ve got to make your way.”
The “three-year rule” – the idea most receivers needing three years to develop – is too general, Doucet said. Some players have that luxury to wait that long, some don’t. Doucet had Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin in place during his 2008 rookie season, and when Steve Breaston emerged that year, Doucet’s pace slowed.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt isn’t thinking about Floyd being eased in as much as he sees a battle for playing time for all the receivers involved. If that happens to push Floyd to the top of the depth chart, so be it.
“There are rookies that have come in and from the first couple practices they are running with the ones,” offensive coordinator Mike Miller said. “But if it doesn’t happen, it’s not a discredit to anyone either. We said when we added Michael to the mix we were going to have great competition.”
Four-receiver formations this camp have featured the quartet of Fitzgerald, Roberts, Doucet and Floyd. Floyd’s blocking has impressed, Miller likes his progress thus far, and even if Floyd isn’t starting – which has never happened to him since he’s been playing football – he will be on the field.
His impact will be measured only in part by his statistics.
“He’s self-motivated,” Fitzgerald said. “He wants to be good. It’s not a lot of talk, it’s about work, and that’s what I like about him too. Not a lot of ‘extra.’ ”
Floyd isn’t sure how quickly he will assimilate into the NFL game. He doesn’t think his rookie status necessarily has to hold him back.
“I think it’s all about maturity and what you want out of yourself,” Floyd said. “I expect a lot of things out of myself. I expect to catch the ball every time it’s thrown my way. It’s the mindset one individual has – me – that when I come out there, I feel like I’m the best player.”