Decker focused on relationship with Mariota
NASHVILLE — Wide receiver Eric Decker insists he has no desire to go out Saturday night and remind the New York Jets what they’re missing after letting him go in June as part of the team’s salary cap purge.
Oh sure, he’ll say hello to a few old buddies, maybe even a coach or two.
But Decker is focused on improving his chemistry with Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota two weeks into training camp with his new team.
“I don’t worry about that stuff,” Decker said Thursday . “I know I still got it, and I’m happy to be here. I’m excited about what we’re capable of doing. Just have to put the work in.”
Decker was just the latest of several big names released when the Jets cut him June 12 to save $7.25 million in salary after failing to trade the 30-year-old receiver . Decker had interest from some teams as a free agent but signed with the Titans in Nashville, where his family has a home.
The seven-year veteran with 385 receptions for 5,253 yards and 52 touchdowns has shown an immediate chemistry with Mariota. Decker also has shown off the precise route-running and hands that earned him a five-year, $36.25 million deal from the Jets in March 2014.
The Titans aren’t counting on Decker to start, though he should be on the field alongside Rishard Matthews in the preseason opener because rookie Corey Davis is recovering from a strained hamstring .
Titans coach Mike Mularkey says he doesn’t think Decker has any type of payback approach to this game.
“He’s going to try and operate at a high level for us with this new system that he’s in,” Mularkey said. “I think it would be more of ‘I don’t want to disappoint us’ than ‘try to wow them’ in my opinion. That’s just the personality the guy has.”
Decker played in only three games last season, catching nine passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. He wound up having surgery to repair a hip issue in October before another surgery in November to repair a torn rotator cuff.
The receiver says he feels great physically, taking advantage of the break from football because of the surgeries.
“This is the best as far as strength and mobility and just everything I’ve felt for a long time, so I’m happy I took care of those things,” Decker said. “It’s unfortunate that it happened. Never want to be put on injured reserve or miss time and be away from the game. But at this point, I’m at a good place physically and mentally.”
Decker’s also now with a team with a rising young quarterback in Mariota, who threw for 3,426 yards with 26 touchdowns and only nine interceptions last season. Mariota has a 93.8 passer rating through his first two NFL seasons, putting him behind only Kurt Warner, Dan Marino, Nick Foles, Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger for quarterbacks attempting at least 500 passes.
The wide receiver says Mariota has made his transition to Tennessee easy.
“He has good instincts, seems like he’s very comfortable with the system, puts us in spots to be successful and makes the right reads,” Decker said. “Our job is to just be at those spots where he expects us to be. We’re getting there. Making some good progress.”
Decker will work in the slot once Davis is healthy.
Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey just knows he likes watching how Decker competes for the ball in the air.
“I’m waiting to see what he does on Sunday with Marcus, and a talented quarterback like that putting the ball in his hands is going to be exciting for us,” Casey said. “I’m just waiting to see them big numbers.”
Mularkey said Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray won’t play against the Jets, though Murray is expected back at practice Monday night from an injured hamstring. CB Demontre Hurst (groin), Davis and DL Karl Klug (ankle) also won’t play. ... GM Jon Robinson helped out by using a couple of tennis rackets to simulate defensive linemen’s hands in the air during a passing drill.