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- Eric Decker says “it’s hard to watch” his former team, the Denver Broncos.
- Decker signed a five-year, $36.25 million deal with the New York Jets.
- He told ESPN his hamstring injury has improved.
New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker told The New York Daily News on Nov. 22 that it was hard to leave his former team, the Denver Broncos, who are contending for the Super Bowl in 2014. The Jets, on the other hand, are an AFC East-worst 2-8.
“‘Honestly, sometimes it’s hard to watch them when they’re playing,’ Decker told the Daily News in a quiet moment this week. ‘When they’re clicking on all cylinders, they’re a tough football team. They got the right pieces.’
“Emmanuel Sanders, who replaced Decker, has been integral in the Broncos’ 7-3 start. He’s picked up where Decker left off in Denver’s explosive offense, ranking fourth in receptions (67), fifth in yards (954) and 11th in targets (92).
“‘Emmanuel Sanders is playing well in my spot, so to speak,’ Decker said. ‘Sometimes, you know, it’s tough to see all the success. But that’s football. It’s going to go in swings. Who says we can’t be a great football team? We got to obviously do some right things to get there, but I’m happy for Peyton (Manning) and Demaryius (Thomas). I respect them so much. They’re all good friends, so I like to see them do well, but sometimes it’s hard.’
“Decker, who had 172 catches for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns in two seasons with Manning, hasn’t found nearly the same success in his first season with the Jets. His 43 receptions for 450 yards and four touchdowns are a fraction of his production with the Broncos, who didn’t make him an offer before the Jets signed him to a 5-year, $36.25 million deal ($15 million guaranteed).
“….Manning has 407 pass attempts compared to 343 by Jets quarterbacks this season, prompting the never-ending debate about how much better he has made receivers through the years. Decker arrived with questions about whether he was a true No. 1 receiver or just a solid No. 2 with inflated numbers. ‘I was a product of the system,’ Decker cracked with a smile.
“‘He made me better with the way I watched tape, the way I practiced,’ Decker said of Manning. ‘I thought we were all good receivers, but it’s just that you get more exposed when you’re with such a great quarterback. A great quarterback can make a great receiver, but…you still got to get open.’
“The drop-off from Manning to Geno Smith, and more recently Michael Vick, has been predictable. Decker’s professionalism and work ethic during this nightmarish season have been admirable. His presence has been invaluable for a team that needs as many leaders as possible.
“‘You wake up and you got a decision if you want to get better or is you just want to get through the day,’ Decker said. ‘This is my job. So I’m not just going to go through the motions and be that guy. I’m going to try to get better every day. That’s what professionals do. If you’re really a good professional, you take a couple guys with you to keep chugging along and keep them progressing.’
“Decker believes the Jets will get on track. He sees the promise in his new team, but it stings not being in the playoff hunt after making the postseason the past three years in Denver.
“It might hurt watching his buddies on TV these days, but there’s no sense dwelling on what might have been.
“He’s happy with his decision.”
Decker also told ESPN New York‘s Jane McManus on Nov. 19 that his hamstring injury has improved:
“New York Jets receiver Eric Decker said his hamstring injury improved over the bye week, and that it now feels as strong as it did before the Green Bay Packers game. Decker managed the injury through training camp, and then reinjured it in the Green Bay game on Sept. 14.
“‘I feel good, I feel good physically, more so mentally,’ Decker said. ‘You step away for a bit and get a refresh, a restart.
“‘I’ve got a little more bounce in my step and I’m not thinking about, every time I make a cut with my hamstring that it’s going to aggravate it,’ Decker said.”
The NFL postponed the Week 12 New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills game originally scheduled for Nov. 23 to Monday, Nov. 24 at the Detroit Lions’ Ford Field because of a massive snowstorm that hit the Buffalo area over the past few days, per The New York Times’ Matt Higgins.
The 27-year-old Decker has caught for 3,520 yards and 37 touchdowns on 265 receptions in 71 career regular-season games, per ESPN stats.