FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The pain is still there, even at night. For all of the progress Jets receiver Eric Decker says he has made since last week, he still can’t say whether he’ll suit up Sunday — or even again this season.
Decker said Thursday that surgery to repair the slightly torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder has “been in discussion. But that’s something down the road. When we have the conversation, we’ll look at it again, and they’ll let me know what the right thing to do is.”
Even as he tried to sound optimistic, it became increasingly clear that Decker is a long way from making an impact on the field. When asked if there is a deadline in his recovery timetable, he said: “That’s something the training staff and coach have to come to terms with. And, obviously, I’ll be in the conversation. But that choice, for me, is out of my hands.”
He hasn’t practiced since re-injuring his shoulder against the Chiefs on Sept. 25, nor was he able to play in last Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks. So far, running routes with the trainers is the extent of his football-related activities.
Still, Decker did his best to highlight the positives. “I’m making progress,” he said. “I’m feeling better than I did last week.” But he then expressed uncertainty about his 2016 return.
“Again, that’s something at this point isn’t a definite answer,” he said. “I’m more focused on every day getting better and getting to that point where I can be ready to go. That’s really the only thing I can control.”
But before he can even concentrate on football-related things, he has to get the strength and range of motion back in his shoulder.
The Jets (1-3) are struggling. Their offense is ranked 14th, but in the past two games, interceptions, drops and a stalled running game have contributed to consecutive losses. The absence of Decker, their top red-zone scoring threat last season, has impacted their efficiency.
“Any time you’ve got somebody that you have an entire year and preseason of work with and all of a sudden he’s gone, it makes a difference,” offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said. “We’ve got to replace him.”
Decker said he’ll “definitely” travel to Pittsburgh, but it seems unlikely that he’ll be active against the Steelers. “At this point, I haven’t gotten on the field either today or yesterday,” he said. “I know Coach usually wants you to practice if you want to play, so that’s something tomorrow, I guess, will kind of determine for me.”
He acknowledged being frustrated because he can’t play with his teammates, but also “you get behind, whether it’s conditioning-wise or whether it’s just skill-wise with the timing with the quarterback and stuff.” He also said it’s difficult to be patient with his rehab while trying to get back on the field.
“You’re walking a fine line,” he said. “You’ve got to listen to your body and communicate with the training staff, doctors. But it’s on me and how I feel and not pushing myself to the point where I’m in excruciating pain or I’m hurting myself or setting myself back that way.”
Asked if he’s finally sleeping pain-free, Decker said, smiling: “Depends on the night. Obviously, there’s some pain. But a little melatonin always helps.”