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Cardinals WR Floyd having breakthrough season

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP)

(Eds: Updates. With AP Photos.)By BOB BAUMAP Sports Writer

Michael Floyd is a quiet guy who would much prefer to shy away from attention once the game is over.

The way he's playing, there's no ducking the spotlight.

It's been a breakout season for the big, young Arizona Cardinals wide receiver.

In each of the last two games, the second-year pro from Notre Dame has surpassed 100 yards receiving, something no Arizona receiver has accomplished since Larry Fitzgerald did it in the final two games two years ago.

Floyd's 297 yards receiving in those two games are the most by a Cardinals player since Rob Moore's 302 in consecutive games 16 years ago.

Typically, he didn't have much to say about his performance.

''I just go out there and make plays,'' Floyd said on Wednesday, his 24th birthday. ''That's what my job entails so that's what I do. I'm happy when I have a good game and we get a victory.''

At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, he has the strength to overwhelm smaller defenders and break tackles once he has caught the ball.

His strong sophomore season has helped the Cardinals to a 7-4 record, and three straight victories, going into Sunday's' game at Philadelphia.

Floyd's last two performances have come despite a sore shoulder.

Two weeks ago, it almost kept him out of Arizona's 27-13 victory at Jacksonville. All he did was catch six passes for 192 yards, including a 91-yarder from Carson Palmer, the team's longest pass play since 1988 and sixth-longest in franchise history.

Last week at home in Arizona's 40-11 rout of Indianapolis, Palmer threw to Floyd seven times and all seven were complete, for 104 yards. Every catch went for a first down.

Floyd was limited in practice Wednesday and coach Bruce Arians doesn't expect the shoulder to get much better.

''It's going to stay sore the rest of the season probably,'' Arians said. ''It's just one of those things you have to fight through and play on Sunday.''

The Cardinals made Floyd the 13th overall pick in the 2012 draft with the aim of getting another big receiver to take some of the pressure off of Fitzgerald. It didn't happen right away.

With Arizona's offense, plagued by poor play at quarterback, the worst in the NFL, there weren't that many opportunities. And Floyd, like a lot of rookies, was learning to adjust to the pro game.

He didn't catch a pass in his first two games and had only eight catches in his first seven contests.

His first truly big game came in the finale last season against San Francisco, when he had eight catches for 166 yards.

It was the final game for Ken Whisenhunt as Arizona's coach, and when Arians was hired, he told Floyd he expected big things from him.

''I broke him down coming out of Notre Dame and I really liked him,'' Arians said. ''He's a big guy and he played big. There are a lot of big guys out there that don't play big, and he can go up and eat the ball off their head and make those types of plays. That's what we expect out of him, but he's becoming a very efficient route runner and a very sure-handed player. He's also done a great job with blocking. He's a big, physical guy. Right now he's becoming a complete package.''

Floyd leads the Cardinals in yards receiving with 761 and his 49 receptions are just one fewer than Fitzgerald has.

Arians said Fitzgerald was a big help in the offseason conditioning for Floyd that helped set the stage for his big season. As good as Floyd has been, Fitzgerald remains the receiver defenses concentrate on the most.

''And he opens it up for a lot of guys,'' Floyd said.

He said that experience has made the biggest difference in his play this season.

''Just being more comfortable out there on the field and getting more reps, just believing in yourself and that you can get the job done,'' Floyd said. ''Basically having a year under you you realize that you're a lot more comfortable. You realize everything that's going on out there, and you become yourself.''

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx

Tagged: Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd

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