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Helmets Off: Eric Decker

Posted Oct 21, 2010

Eric Decker talks about his transition to the NFL, living with fellow rookie wideout Demaryius Thomas and who he picked to win the World Series.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Eric Decker joined the Broncos as a third-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. After setting University of Minnesota career records in receptions and receiving yards, the rookie led the NFL in preseason receptions and posted a 2010 preseason single-game high with 10 catches in the team's final preseason contest at Minnesota. Entering Week 7, he has yet to record a reception in the regular season, but has seen time on offense and chipped in on special teams. He talked with DenverBroncos.com about his transition to the professional ranks.

With all the work that goes into the transition to the NFL, have you had time to enjoy it?
"Yeah, I think every week I start to feel more comfortable with being in the locker room with the guys, what the coaches expect from me and just how things are run on a week-to-week basis. It's definitely enjoyable. It's still a transition because it's such a long season and you've got to mentally prepare yourself for that and for, from my standpoint, always being ready to play in case a receiver goes down or on special teams. Just making sure I'm ready to go every Sunday."

Has it been harder or easier than you thought it would be?
"That's a good question. I'd say it's about what I expected. It's kind of like going from high school to college, obviously there are going to be some bumps in the road and some things you've got to learn and earn that respect back from your teammates and your coaching staff. That comes with time. You've just got to plug away, put in your work and just keep your head up."

How beneficial has it been having Demaryius Thomas go through it with you?
"We obviously came in together, we live together as well. So coming home from practice, talking about the day, discussing different experiences we've had on the field and off the field, it definitely helps you make it through a professional lifestyle."

Do you talk a lot of football when you get home?
"We try to get away from it, obviously, because you clock in your hours here at work and you don't want it to really affect you outside. You want to kind of get away so it stays fresh and doesn't get overwhelming. But it's always nice if we're sitting down just watching TV, to talk about a certain play or maybe how to run a certain route, it's always nice to have someone who is in the same position as you."

You've chipped in on special teams along with taking some snaps on offense -- as a rookie do you feel you need to contribute in as many facets of the game as possible?
"Definitely. It has to be that way, especially when you get deeper into the season and you get injuries, it's kind of the next man up. Obviously it's a smaller roster than college, as well, so you've got to be versatile in what you can do. As a rookie, you've just got to wait for your opportunities, and once you get them you've got to make the most of them."

Has it been an adjustment going from being "the guy" at Minnesota to your role now?
"It always is. I think for any competitive athlete, being in a position where you've started for a long period of time and you've had that success, and now you're starting over and trying to earn the respect back from the veteran leaders on this team and the coaching staff -- to earn the confidence from the other guys is what you've got to work towards. Like I said, it's time, and you've just got to keep pushing and get better every day."

Did your production in the preseason help you know you can contribute at this level?
"It definitely helped me feel more comfortable with my physical status and just being comfortable in the NFL, knowing that I can play at this level. You get to learn the details, because what separates good college players from NFL players is mental. Knowing your defenders, knowing how to set up certain routes and just making plays like a natural athlete does. Just having that mental toughness because it's a long season."

How much have you taken from the veterans having success in front of you?
"Big time. They help from all standpoints as far as making it through a day to the attitude you've got to have throughout the season, how to take care of your body, how to watch and study and take notes during film and after practice. It's been very helpful."

Have you had much time to explore Colorado since you've been here?
"Not too much. I've had some family in town and we had a chance to go to Red Rocks and went to Vail during the offseason after OTAs. I've been downtown a few times, seen a Rockies game, but I'm looking forward to this upcoming offseason to do a little exploration."

Have you been keeping up with football at your alma mater, the University of Minnesota?
"I've been keeping in touch with (Minnesota quarterback) Adam Weber every week, and some other guys on the team. Obviously they're struggling right now and can't find ways to win the ballgame. They made a move with (former Head) Coach (Tim) Brewster -- our Athletic Director Mr. (Joel) Maturi thought was the right decision, and you've got to back him up. I'm a U of M grad and I'm going to be a fan always, so I'm supporting the program and hopefully they can turn things around."

Who do you think should take over the program?
"I don't. My opinion would be to find a guy that has Big Ten experience, whether he played in it or he coached in it, to know what the conference is about and how to recruit the certain players to be successful."

Having been selected in the MLB twice, I take it you're a pretty big baseball fan?
"Huge baseball fan."

Who do you think will make it to the World Series, and who's taking home the title?
"I hate to say the Yankees, but I've got to say the Yankees. Philadelphia and San Fran, it's going to be a good series. I want to see San Francisco win, but I think Philly will take it. I'll go Philadelphia because I don't like the Yankees."
(Decker answered this question on Monday, when Texas was up 2-1 on New York in the ALCS and San Francisco and Philadelphia were tied at 1-1 in the NLCS.)