Eric Decker embraces challenge of being No. 1 receiving target
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Eric Decker wouldn't declare himself the Jets' No. 1 receiver.
But rest assured, the former Bronco is determined to show he's capable of carrying the offense if need be.
"I think everyone wants to be that guy," Decker said Wednesday after Day 2 of organized team activities. "You've just got to be able to prove it."
Coach Rex Ryan went out of his way not to saddle Decker with the hefty label of "No. 1" guy. But Decker's contract -- and the fact that the Jets finished 30th and 31st in passing yards per game in 2012 and 2013, respectively -- shows just how much is riding on his arrival.
After spending four seasons in Denver, he signed a five-year, $36.25 million free-agent deal with the Jets this offseason. Decker now has to adjust from catching passes from future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning to balls thrown by Geno Smith and Michael Vick. But that doesn't faze Decker.
"I see a lot of talent in this QB room," he said.
And while some say Decker's stats (87 catches for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013) were inflated because of Manning, Ryan pointed out that "he did catch eight touchdown passes when [Tim] Tebow was the quarterback. Hey, that's pretty impressive."
Decker is expected to be a major weapon in the Jets' passing game. But while the 27-year-old receiver is trying to get acclimated to his new surroundings, he's already starting to feel at home.
"It hasn't felt weird," he said. "It's just a different environment. I feel like I fit in well. It's going to be a fun season."
And he's already impressed his new teammates.
"I think Decker has been great," said Vick, who also signed a free-agent deal this offseason. "He's had an opportunity to work with the 'ones.' Him and Geno have had a lot of reps and work with him in the one-on-ones. He's doing a great job. He's everything as advertised."
The Jets made a concerted effort to upgrade their offense with the acquisition of skill players Decker, running back Chris Johnson and several speedy draft picks. But the organization has especially high hopes for Decker.
"Clearly, he is going to be a go-to guy," Ryan said. "We know what we're getting. This is going to be a guy that you can get him the ball in critical situations."