FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots claimed and were awarded wide receiver Michael Floyd off waivers from the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday afternoon.
The acquisition of the five-year veteran, who was released by the Cardinals Wednesday, comes two days after he was arrested for driving under the influence and failure to obey a police officer.
Receiver/returner Griff Whalen, who was signed late last week, was released to make room for Floyd on the 53-man roster.
Additionally, according to a league source, veteran return man Devin Hester, who was released by the Ravens a day after their loss to the Patriots Monday night, was back in town for a tryout. He has not been signed.
Floyd, 27, was arrested after he was found unconscious behind the wheel of his running car at an intersection in Scottsdale, Ariz., early Monday. The Cardinals lost in Miami Sunday, a game in which Floyd caught two passes for 18 yards. He was booked and released from jail later Monday.
Floyd, a 6-foot-3-inch, 220-pounder, was the 13th overall pick in 2012 out of Notre Dame, where he caught 271 passes for 3,689 yards and 37 touchdowns in 42 games.
While a student in South Bend, Floyd was cited for drunken driving in early 2011 and suspended from the team. He was reinstated in the summer but stripped of his captaincy. He set a school record with 100 receptions that fall.
In 76 games in four-plus seasons in Arizona, Floyd had 242 catches (on 457 targets) for 3,739 yards and 23 touchdowns. This season, Floyd has 33 catches for 446 yards and 4 TDs. He had three catches for 61 yards against the Patriots in the season opener.
While possessing a nice blend of size, speed, and strength, Floyd is a bit sloppy in his route running and his hands can be inconsistent. Perhaps his most impressive stat is his 15.5-yard average per catch for his career.
Floyd provides depth at an area of need for the Patriots, who dressed just three receivers Monday night with Danny Amendola on the shelf with a high ankle sprain.
The Patriots are on the hook for the remainder of Floyd’s 2016 salary — $1,291,765, according to patscap.com. He will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Floyd returned a pair of punts as a senior in college but hasn’t handled those duties as a pro.
Whalen, who was expected to help with return duties, was inactive for his lone game with the Patriots.
Hester is the NFL’s all-time leader with 20 returns for touchdowns.
Cyrus Jones, who has had his struggles returning punts this season (four fumbles), simply said, “It’s all good,’’ when approached by reporters before practice Thursday.
John Elway. Peyton Manning. Tom Brady. They’re three of the best quarterbacks ever. And Broncos coach Gary Kubiak has had a close-up look at all of them.
Kubiak was an eighth-round pick of the Broncos in 1983, the same year Elway went No. 1 overall to the Colts before forcing a trade to Denver, and Kubiak spent his entire career as Elway’s backup. Kubiak coached Manning with the Broncos and has coached against Brady nine times, four in the playoffs.
Kubiak declined to rank them but offered his insight into what the three have in common.
“I think the way they compete,” Kubiak said on a conference call Wednesday. “If it has to be one thing then I wouldn’t even start to talk about how they throw it, I’d just say the way they compete. They raise the level of everybody around them. They’re the ultimate warriors and competitors when they step between the white lines. You know, it’s what this game is about, and look how long each and every one of them has done it. If you ever think about three guys that play that damn long and that well, you know it’s just amazing.”
For the second straight day, Amendola was the lone player missing from practice.
The full-padded session was held at the face-freezing Foxborough Fridge (a.k.a. the lower field behind Gillette Stadium), though the players didn’t seem to mind the conditions. In fact, every time the Montreal Express blew across the field, the players would cheer in approval. Yes, it’s Denver week.
The cold was so biting that even defensive coordinator Matt Patricia eschewed his normal shorts look and opted for sweatpants.
Cornerback Malcolm Butler, who popped up on the injury report Wednesday with a hip ailment suffered against the Ravens, said he was “feeling good” before practice.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower was the only addition to the injury report Thursday. He was limited in practice because a knee injury.
Butler also limited, as were tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder), defensive backs Jordan Richards (knee) and Eric Rowe (hamstring), linebacker Elandon Roberts (hamstring), and wide receiver/special teamer Matthew Slater (foot).
Though many of the Patriots were bundled up, Bennett touched on why many football players feel it’s necessary to wear the bare minimum on game days, despite the temperature.
“We bundle up at practice, but in game you tough it out,” he said. “You got out there and you ball out.’’
Asked specifically about the change in mind-set on game days, Bennett said, “Same reason women wear less on Halloween. It’s sexier. It’s cold during Halloween, too, but there’s a bunch of sexy cops out there.’’