Eric Decker stretched out his legs and leaned back on his locker stool.
Then he flashed a smile.
“I’ve still got some diva in me. Of course,” he said playfully.
Lost in the shuffle of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s resurgence and Brandon Marshall’s record-breaking season with the Jets is Decker, the former Bronco who signed a five-year, $36.25-million deal in March 2014.
The former Peyton Manning-pass catcher was brought in last year to spark the Jets’ anemic passing game. But Decker has gone from being a focal point to being largely overshadowed, thanks to the acquisition of Marshall.
But that’s OK, he said.
After falling short of a Super Bowl win with Denver and finishing 4-12 in his first season with the Jets, nothing on the football field matters more to Decker than winning. And he’s comfortable enough in his own skin to be Marshall’s sidekick.
Decker’s personal life also has helped to put the game in perspective. He and his wife, country/pop singer Jessie James Decker, had their first child, daughter Vivianne Rose, in March 2014. This past September, the couple had a son, Eric Thomas II.
In being a husband and a father, Decker has found another purpose.
“It’s a fine line. Because you’ve got to be able to have that competitive fire and the want-to, like, I want to get the ball in this situation,” said Decker, who has caught 59 passes for 801 yards and eight touchdowns.
“I love football, I pride myself on being good, but I think it’s just the balance in life, maybe. Being happy or fulfilled outside of football makes it easier when you’re not ‘The Guy’ and you know your role on the team . . . I think it’s just a trait as far as being comfortable with everything in your life and being happy.”
The cameras crowd around Marshall multiple times a week, and for good reason. He’s amassed 1,062 receiving yards — the most of any Jets receiver since Jerricho Cotchery in 2007 — and he’s the first NFL player to reach 1,000 receiving yards with four different teams. But Decker has been just as important to this Jets offense, which currently ranks 10th in the NFL.
“I think Brandon is having a superb year, but you can’t sleep on Decker,” coach Todd Bowles said. “ . . . Every week you look at him, he just makes plays, he works hard, he blocks, he does the right things and the ball finds him.
“ . . . What he’s doing this year is invaluable.”
Wide receivers tend to be flashy, look-at-me types, but that’s not usually Decker’s style. “I never looked at myself as ‘The Guy,’ ” he said. “I think I knew that I was in those shoes last year, but I never really felt that sense, honestly, throughout my career. Just a good receiver.”
He’s not a big trash-talker on the field, but every so often his inner diva comes out. “Well, of course I’m great,” he joked, flashing another smile. “I’m being humble.”
He knows his role — the shifty slot man in Chan Gailey’s offense and a reliable target for Ryan Fitzpatrick in the red zone. And he’s content.
“I just feel like that’s always been one of the positives of my game: I’m able to be plugged in wherever and I’ll figure it out and I’ll be consistent,” Decker said.
“It might not be the flashy Odell Beckham style because that’s not my game, I don’t have the skill set he has. But I can be productive.”
The decision to put Decker in the slot was Gailey’s idea, according to Bowles. But it wasn’t “an epiphany or something,” the offensive coordinator said.
“I think he ended up playing in there some and then he was productive. So we said, ‘Well, if he’s productive, let’s leave him in there a little bit more,’ ” Gailey said, highlighting Decker’s ability to make defenders miss in a short area.
“ . . . He’s got a great feel for the game inside, especially in the red zone. He and Fitz kind of read each other pretty well to know what we’re trying to get done . . . He’s still a good outside receiver — I don’t want anybody to not think that — but he’s done a great job inside.”
In last week’s overtime win over the Giants, Decker caught eight passes for 101 yards, marking the first time this season he has reached 100 receiving yards. “It took a while,” he said.
He came close a few times earlier in the season, catching eight passes for 97 yards and a TD against the Colts in Week 2 and six passes for 94 yards against the Patriots in Week 7. But each week his versatility and dependability are on display, regardless of what the stat sheet says.
“I’m fine with the ‘quiet’ games, as long as we’re winning,” Decker said. “ . . . I kind of know that my role is working the middle of the field and third downs and running certain routes.
“It might not accumulate to a lot of yards, but I know that role is important. So for me, that’s satisfying.”
VS. THE TITANS
*2011, 2013 with Broncos, 2014 with Jets. Decker had no stats from his 2010 rookie-season game with Denver.