Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 4/27/12
PHOENIX -- In some ways, No. 1 draft pick Michael Floyd and the Cardinals played 2011 in parallel. They both drove the same hard road. Floyd, a wide receiver at Notre Dame, was suspended from the program for five months before being cleared to play his senior season. The Cardinals suffered an injury to their starting quarterback and lost seven of their first eight games. Both recovered. Floyd caught 100 passes for Notre Dame to become the schools career leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. The Cardinals came on strong, winning an NFL-record four overtime games and finishing just one victory short of the playoffs. Their union could be the start of a beautiful friendship. We went through a tough stretch, and we were able to turn it around and build some momentum off that, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said after Floyd was introduced at a press conference at the team's training facility Friday afternoon. Maybe thats a similar-type situation. It wasnt great for him a year ago, and he turned it into a positive. It just shows if you stay persistent and do it the right way, it can work out for you. Floyd said he thought he might not reach center stage in the NFL draft when he was suspended following his arrest for drunken driving 13 months ago, his third alcohol-related run-in with the authorities. While away from the team, he worked out and ran through plays individually. After complying with the guidelines set by Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, Floyd returned to the program in time for fall practice in August and had arguably the best receiving season in school history. His 100 receptions -- for 1,147 yards and nine touchdowns -- broke Golden Tates 2009 mark of 93. Floyd, 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, made the most of a second chance that he was not sure would come. As soon as I got in trouble, I thought it was over. But when I got a chance to reveal myself and show people thats not really me, that was just a mistake that I learned from. If I wanted to be in the position I am now, I had to make big changes, Floyd said. While living in the fishbowl that celebrity brings, especially at a place such as Notre Dame, Floyd vowed to make changes. He chose to live on campus, not away, and stayed in more often. He thinned his poss, and said he and his teammates policed each other, understanding what the future could hold. I just made sure if I got through it and when I got through it, that would be the last mistake that I had, Floyd said. Floyd will eventually pair with All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald to give the Cardinals two rangy, athletic targets for Kevin Kolb or John Skelton. Floyd could alleviate the double-teams Fitzgerald often faced last year, when he had 80 receptions for 1,411 yards and eight touchdowns. It was the second-highest yardage total but second-lowest number of receptions in his last seven seasons. Second and third receivers Early Doucet (54 receptions) and Andre Roberts (51) did not command much attention. Floyd and Fitzgerald go back a long way due to their Minnesota roots. Fitzgerald attended high school in Minneapolis and Floyd in St. Paul, and the two share the same trainer (Frank Welle) and work out together when they are home. Floyd said Fitzgerald texted him immediately after the draft with congratulations. Larry Fitzgerald being the top guy here and me being a rookie, I think most people would love the chance to be in that position, Floyd said. "It couldnt be a better fit for me. Im really excited to learn from one of the best in the game. Hes actually a guy that will want to teach me to make me the best player I can be." Floyd showed a similar skill set to Fitzgerald in college, although Whisenhunt knows translating that to the NFL against bigger, faster, stronger opponents is the next step. Ill take as many big receivers who can run and catch as I can, Whisenhunt said. "To elevate and make the catch over people, hes done that. We think, based on all of the work that weve put in, that it is going to translate very well." Floyd is the first in his family to graduate from college, and he holds his family close. Below a large tattoo of praying hands on his left biceps are the words Family First in script lettering. He also seems to have his familys work ethic. He helped pay for his scholarship at private Cretin-Durham in St. Paul by working with the janitorial staff before the school day began, and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Floyd dove for balls in practice even late in the season, competing when no one was watching. Thats just me being me, Floyd said. Thats how I do it. I think a lot of people feed off that. Follow Jack Magruder on Twitter
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