Wide receiver Michael Floyd (15) goes out for a pass from quarterback Carson Palmer (3) during OTAs.
Michael Floyd's face scrunched up a bit, as if the mere subject of the vegetables he needed to eat transported him back to being a picky 6-year-old.
"A lot of this stuff I'd never even had before," Floyd said. "My mom never forced me to eat stuff I didn't like. But I'm getting better at it."
Vegetables. Fish. Less red meat. In college, Floyd ate what he wanted. Then the wide receiver got to the NFL and lived his rookie season with Larry Fitzgerald and found out all the ways he needed to change.
Tilapia and broccoli alone won't turn Floyd into an elite wideout. There are, obviously, other things that go into it. He's a better route runner now and while his own confidence never wavered, it doesn't hurt that coach Bruce Arians clearly sees the 2012 No. 1 draft pick as an important piece. "Stats," if that's what you'd call them in May and June, mean little this time of year yet it seems like Floyd has been targeted more than anyone during workouts – including Fitzgerald.
Some of that is because Floyd is better prepared this year. Certainly his body is.
"(Good eating) is critical in maintaining your health and conditioning," Floyd said. "With the heat and how much we run, you have to put the
right things in your body."
That started last year. Floyd moved in with Fitzgerald, a pairing not surprising with both hailing from the Twin Cities in Minnesota – Fitzgerald Minneapolis, Floyd St. Paul. Fitzgerald has known Floyd since Floyd was in high school.
So the two lived in the same house, drove together to the facility and games, and had meals together. And "if he wanted to eat, he had to eat what I ate," Fitzgerald said.
"I don't think it was by choice," Fitzgerald said. "Before, he had never had fish before. He was a steak-and-potato kind of guy. I'm on a strict diet. He started liking it and then he started living by it.
"He might not have liked something but he'd at least try. With your kid, I mean, it's 'Daddy I'm not eating that' and fight you all night and cry. It wasn't like that. He was cool. He eats fish a lot now. It's fun to see him expanding his diet."
It took until year seven in the league, Fitzgerald figures, before he was truly eating right. Speeding up Floyd's learning curve is the plan now. Eating healthy keeps the weight in check, Floyd has quickly realized, noting that last year, he'd "take some days off from eating healthy" and his weight would rise.
"I didn't adjust to it well," Floyd said, although he added with a smile, "I do love to eat fruit."
There were a lot of adjustments Floyd had to make as a rookie. He had never not been a starter on the football field from the time he began playing as a young boy. His snaps grew deeper into the season, but the Cardinals' problems on both offense and at quarterback naturally hindered his growth as well.
His best game of the season came in the finale, an eight-catch, 166-yard performance in San Francisco that flashed his strengths. It underscored another belief of Floyd around the Cardinals, that he may be the type of receiver that gets better the more he is fed the ball.
Floyd shrugs his shoulders at this notion. "The more I got reps, the better I got (last year)," Floyd said, before adding with another smile, "It doesn't matter how many catches, although the more you get sure helps the confidence."
Floyd ended up with 45 catches for 562 yards and two touchdowns in 2012. He may not double the receptions, but there is definitely a hope he can join Fitzgerald as a 1,000-yard receiver. Floyd isn't going to make any grand proclamations, although he points out "B.A. gives you a lot of opportunities to be that wide receiver."
"I am really happy with him," Arians said. "I see him making leaps and bounds getting better. He's very serious about what he does. He doesn't like to make mistakes. He's totally bought in and if he just continues to improve his fundamentals he's another guy who can have a breakout year."
The progress he has made has been significant and noticeable. He seems light years beyond a year ago, when Fitzgerald playfully – although pointedly – jabbed him through Twitter when Floyd didn't attend one of Fitzgerald's Minnesota workouts even though Floyd was 10 minutes away.
"If I didn't know Mike for as long as I've known him, and where he comes from, I probably would have never done that or done it in a different way," Fitzgerald said. "Mike knows I really care about him. He's like a little brother to me. I know I'm not responsible for him but I feel responsible for him.
"We are from the same community, so I feel I would be doing him a disservice if I didn't try and help him with everything, not just on the football field. Any of my experiences that can help him I feel it's my duty to do it for him. And I know he'll do it for the next guy coming up when I'm done. That's how you want it to be."
Off the field, that also meant making Floyd eat his veggies. It apparently worked.
"My body feels a whole lot better, when you eat healthy and take care of it," Floyd said. "That's the biggest thing from last year to this year."