Arizona’s Floyd comes on strong after slow start to season

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Statistically, Michael Floyd ranks third among the Arizona Cardinals’ trio of talented receivers.

That’s a bit misleading, though.

After a slow start to the season, a result of surgery to repair three dislocated fingers early in training camp, Floyd has been coming on strong.

After catching two touchdown passes in the Cardinals’ 26-20 overtime victory over Green Bay on Saturday, Floyd figures prominently in the Cardinals’ hopes of winning at Carolina on Sunday in the NFC championship game.

“If he wouldn’t have broken his hand, I think he would have had a 1,500-yard year,” coach Bruce Arians said after Wednesday’s practice. “He was having a great camp, and he’s having a hell of a season, especially the second half of the season.”

Floyd was sidelined the entire preseason. He didn’t miss any regular season games, but it took time for him to be effective.

Through the first five games of the season, Floyd caught eight passes for 104 yards and no touchdowns. In his final 10 games, not counting the playoffs, he caught 44 for 745 yards and six TDs. In five of those games, Floyd topped 100 yards receiving.

He won’t use the injury as an excuse.

“I’m not really worried about the hand anymore. I don’t think I was worried about it from the beginning,” he said. “I think when you worry about an injury, something else is going to happen while you’re playing out there.”

Floyd said his numbers got better simply because he was thrown the ball more often.

“It’s just the plays that are dialed up by B.A.,” he said. “Carson (Palmer) found me on the field and I made plays.”

Larry Fitzgerald and Floyd make an imposing tandem. Fitzgerald stands 6-foot-3, Floyd 6-foot-2. Combined with diminutive speedster John Brown, it’s a formidable force for opponents to deal with.

“You think about Larry as the first guy you think about in this offense,” Palmer said. “Then with all the attention that Smoke (Brown) gets, having a thousand yards and all those things, he (Floyd) is kind of the third guy you think about, probably naturally, and I don’t think that bothers him. I think he enjoys that because he ends up walking away last week with two touchdowns. So much focus goes to Larry, it leaves him one-on-one a lot.”

There seems to be zero jealousy among the receivers.

“We all just like each other, on and off the field,” Floyd said. “It doesn’t matter who gets all the praise and glory. Somehow, you contributed to the win, and that’s how we look at it.”

Floyd, the 13th overall pick out of Notre Dame in 2012, caught 65 passes for 1,041 yards in 2013, Arians’ first season in Arizona. Last year, his numbers dipped to 47 catches for 841 yards, thanks partly to the Cardinals’ quarterback issues after Palmer and backup Drew Stanton went down with season-ending injuries.

The Cardinals obviously value what Floyd brings. Last year they picked up the option on his contract for the 2016 season.

“He brings a guy that’s physical (as a blocker) in the run game. He’s physical with the ball in his hands,” Palmer said. “He’s a guy that can make the play with the ball in his hands after the catch, and break a tackle here and there. He’s a mismatch, week in and week out. It doesn’t matter who the corner is.”

In last weekend’s win over the Packers, Floyd’s first touchdown was an eight-yard toss from Palmer that he caught in the back corner of the end zone, keeping his feet inbounds as he ran. The second TD catch gave Arizona a 17-13 lead in the fourth quarter and was most fortuitous.

With the ball at the Packers’ 8-yard line, Palmer threw over the middle toward Fitzgerald at about the 3-yard line. But Green Bay’s Demetrius Randall deflected the ball off his forearm. The ball sailed perilously into the end zone — and right into Floyd’s hands.

Floyd said that with such depth at wide receiver, someone should be open or at least in a one-on-one situation on every pass.

“The ball can be distributed any way,” he said. “You never know who’s going to have a breakout game. It could be Fitz one day. It could be John making plays. It could be anyone. … It’s a great thing to have.”