Shoul­der lands Decker on IR

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Den­nis Waszak

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. >> Down one of their best play­mak­ers for the sea­son, the New York Jets are look­ing to their young­sters to help fill the void.

Wide re­ceiver Eric Decker will have sea­son-end­ing surgery af­ter be­ing placed on injured re­serve Wed­nes­day with a par­tially torn ro­ta­tor cuff in his right shoul­der.

“It’s tough news,” quar­ter­back Ryan Fitz­patrick said.

Decker was in­ac­tive the past two weeks af­ter ini­tially be­ing injured at Buf­falo in Week 2 and the shoul­der wors­en­ing at Kansas City the fol­low­ing week. Last week, coach Todd Bowles said it was still “too early to tell” whether Decker would be placed on IR, which would mean he would have to sit out at least eight weeks.

Bowles said Wed­nes­day that Decker would be hav­ing surgery “soon,” and an eight-month re­cov­ery pe­riod is usu­ally in­volved. That would put the re­ceiver on pace to pos­si­bly be back by mini­camp next June.

Decker, who was ini­tially ruled as “week-to-week “with the in­jury, said last Thursday that his mind­set was that, “I want to get back on the field, yes,” but was un­cer­tain as to whether that would be pos­si­ble this sea­son.

“He wasn’t re­cov­er­ing the way we hoped he would,” Bowles said. “He wasn’t get­ting any bet­ter. It was get­ting worse. At some point, he had to try to get surgery.”

It’s a huge blow to the Jets, who have not been the dy­namic of­fense they were last sea­son with Fitz­patrick, Decker and fel­low re­ceiver Bran­don Mar­shall lead­ing the way.

“It def­i­nitely hurts,” Mar­shall said. “He’s one of the great re­ceivers in the league.”

Decker had nine catches for 194 yards and two touch­downs in three games. He had 80 re­cep­tions for 1,027 yards and 12 scores — in­clud­ing a team-record 10 scor­ing grabs in­side the op­po­nents’ 20-yard line — last sea­son as he and Mar­shall com­bined for 26 TDs.

Decker signed as a free agent with the Jets in 2014 af­ter four sea­sons in Den­ver and has been one of the NFL’s most-pro­duc­tive re­ceivers in that time with 163 re­cep­tions for 2,183 yards.

“You def­i­nitely can’t re­place him with one guy,” Fitz­patrick said. “I think es­pe­cially with him and the red area, on third downs and the stuff that he was tops in the league at, that’s the stuff that you re­ally miss, but it’s go­ing to be a col­lec­tive ef­fort. It’s go­ing to be a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent guys hav­ing to step in.”

Decker’s ab­sence has had a no­tice­able ef­fect on the Jets, who have scored a to­tal of seven points in the sec­ond half in the past three games since a 37-31 win at Buf­falo in Week 2 in which New York put up 17 points af­ter half­time.

Quincy Enunwa has served as the de facto No. 2 re­ceiver since Decker was hurt, and leads the Jets with 27 catches. But other than Enunwa and Mar­shall, who has 24 re­cep­tions, New York has mostly in­ex­pe­ri­enced re­ceivers left on its ros­ter.

Sev­enth-round pick Charone Peake (four catches, 36 yards) and un­drafted free agents Robby An­der­son (five for 56) and Jalin Mar­shall (five for 64) are among the Jets’ re­main­ing re­ceivers — but Jalin Mar­shall has missed the past two games with a torn labrum.

“He’s one of the great re­ceivers in the league,” Bran­don Mar­shall said of Decker. “But we’re more than con­fi­dent that the younger guys we have, they’ll make plays. Guys like Robby, they’re studs and hun­gry, wait­ing for their op­por­tu­ni­ties . ... They’ll step in and just be OK.”

New York also claimed for­mer Tampa Bay re­ceiver Jeremy But­ler off waivers on Tues­day, and cut Jeremy Ross. But­ler had 31 catches for 363 yards last sea­son for Bal­ti­more, which signed him as an un­drafted free agent out of Tennessee-Martin in 2014, but cut him this sum­mer af­ter train­ing camp.

“Don’t panic,” Bran­don Mar­shall said. “We’re OK. It’s the NFL. It’s not about one guy.”

The Jets signed cor­ner­back Nick Mar­shall off Jack­sonville’s prac­tice squad Wed­nes­day to fill Decker’s ros­ter spot. The for­mer Auburn quar­ter­back was used on spe­cial teams and in the sec­ondary by the Jaguars.

New York has lost three straight games to fall to 1-4 on the sea­son, with a road game at Ari­zona on Mon­day night up next.

“A win would be huge,” Fitz­patrick said. “Win­ning kind of cures all, and when you think things aren’t go­ing well and all that, then all of a sud­den one win can kind of ig­nite a sea­son. So that’s what we’re gun­ning for.”

BILL KOSTROUN — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

New York Jets wide re­ceiver Eric Decker was placed on injured re­serve Wed­nes­day with a par­tially torn ro­ta­tor cuff in his right shoul­der, likely end­ing his sea­son.

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