Usually the headlines during this month-plus long lull in the NFL calendar tout the chances of a first-round pick breaking into the starting lineup. In Arizona, the noise coming out of the desert points in the opposite direction. All indications are that No. 13 overall pick wide receiver Michael Floyd will begin the season on the bench.
Pro Football Weekly's Dan Arkush reports that "word is" the Cardinals will allow Floyd to "develop at his own pace." Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic writes that it "wouldn't be surprising" if Floyd were the No. 3 or 4 wide receiver when the season opens, so the team "can get a temperature of his abilities at the NFL level." According to Bolvin, head coach Ken Whisenhunt said Floyd will "compete," but only put the payoff at putting him in "some packages" if he "shows he can do some things."
Wide receiver does have its nuances that can slow a wide receiver's early growth, and it is certainly wise to hold a young wide receiver back until he really knows what he is supposing to be doing on every play. The last thing a team would want is a receiver on the field who is thinking more about his assignment than how to beat his opponent.
Still, I wonder how wise it is to ease Floyd when his situation would be ideal for learning on the fly and the team needs his presence in the passing game. Larry Fitzgerald will continue to draw as much coverage and attention as any wide receiver in the league. Floyd presents the biggest threat by far to opposing defenses who neglect to account for Fitzgerald's complements.
Floyd's size, speed and overall athleticism make him the kind of receiver who can make plays on ability more than precise execution until he gets his feet under him. Kevin Kolb needs a dose of boldness more than anything, and the successes that could come with targets to Floyd to single coverage—even tight single coverage—would embolden Kolb to be braver in the pocket. Andre Roberts is a more natural fit in the slot.
All of the surrounding factors are encouraging the Cardinals to take a chance on Floyd. The risk of creating negative momentum for his career with early failures is more than offset by the reward of continuing the momentum of a team that finished 2011 going 7-2 in their last nine games.
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