Wide receiver Michael Floyd (15) goes up to snare a pass over cornerback Justin Bethel during Thursday's OTA.
The Cardinals had put on helmets for the first time in the offseason, played offense vs. defense for the first time. And quarterback Carson Palmer, unprompted, made sure to point out his up-and-coming wide receiver.
"The way Mike Floyd is playing," Palmer said, "just jumped out at me."
Floyd is far from a secret anymore, after the 2012 first-round pick posted his first 1,000-yard season a year ago. His 1,041 yards led the team as did his 16.0-yard average (on 65 receptions), and the Cardinals are confident in his progression.
So too is Floyd, who said it was all "part of growing up and taking everything seriously."
"This is my third year," Floyd said. "You just have to prepare differently."
Palmer is buying in. He praised Floyd's concentration in traffic, his ability to beat Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson on a fly pattern and the way Floyd has worked on his flexibility under new strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris.
Now, Palmer said, Floyd is more fluid. He runs effortlessly, catches the ball effortlessly.
"I have very high expectations for Mike this year," Palmer said.
Far from a finished product, Floyd repeats perhaps his favorite phrase often – that he just wants to get better every day. Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake won't argue, noting Floyd first still has much to learn.
Floyd has made his impact as a good blocking wide receiver, the best the Cardinals have right now. But Drake wants him to be better at it. Drake wants to see Floyd improve on his route running and technique.
"The only person that can keep him from being good is him," Drake said.
Too often last season, Drake said, someone in the receiving corps would "fool the quarterback" and not be in the right place during a play. That's the overriding goal of this offseason, to eliminate those mistakes. Sometimes last year, that included Floyd.
Floyd also still benefits from the defensive attention given to Larry Fitzgerald, although after 2013, Floyd may begin to get that attention over Fitzgerald sooner rather than later.
"Looking at the production he had last year I think people will start looking at him that way, but at the same time, you don't know what a defensive coordinator will do," Drake said. "People will still scheme against Larry Fitzgerald."
For his part, Floyd shrugs away such an idea. Maybe he will end up drawing more attention. It's inevitable if others notice him the way Palmer has. Either way, the Cardinals should benefit.
"If they double team anyone, we have the guys on the field that can beat one-on-one coverage," Floyd said. "We are not a stingy group of guys. We don't really care who gets the praise and glory. At the end of the day it's about the winning. Whoever can beat that one-on-one coverage, it'll help us out a lot."
More images from the Cardinals' first week of OTAs in 2014