We’re down to the double digits now. Just 99 days before the 2012 NFL season kicks off. Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker has a front-row seat for the story of the offseason however, which is underway in earnest with the start of OTAs last week. Many expect Decker to take a big leap forward as one of Peyton Manning’s starting receivers in 2012.
Eric Decker joined CJ and Kreckman on 102.3 The Ticket in Denver to discuss the changes the Broncos made on both sides of the ball during the offseason, the presence Peyton Manning brings to offseason activities, and what his and the team’s goals are for 2012 as the Broncos organization prepares for life after Tim Tebow.
On the improvements the Broncos made on the perimeter of the defense this offseason:
“That was a big move they made in the offseason, solidifying those outside positions defensively. We’ve got [Drayton] Florence from Buffalo who’s a nine- or 10-year vet, so to have those guys to go against every day is just gonna make us better. First of all, Champ Bailey I think is one of the best in the league, if not the best. And to I guess learning through mistakes or through just the battles that you have in everyday practice has been awesome. And I think at the same point it’s gonna make them that much better.”
On if the intensity level is higher with Peyton Manning in town for offseason activities:
“Oh yeah, we were kind of joking around saying that it felt like a training camp practice because I think guys are so excited to get out there and start running around and really start obviously going against the defense. And we’ve been putting in some good work and I think we’ve made a lot of strides the three days that we had this week.”
On what Peyton Manning brings to the team:
“He brings that experience that has been unlike any that we’ve had at that position. A guy that’s been to 10-plus Pro Bowls, a championship MVP, a guy that’s been there, done that, and really understands. He’s a coach at his position, which is awesome. Because being a younger, I think, core offensively, we need that guy to step in and take demand of everybody. And the way that we work, the way that I think Coach [John] Fox has kind of put this team together, we’ve got a lot of hungry guys but we need that leader and that’s Peyton Manning. And I think if he stays healthy and we keep grinding it out, we’re gonna give ourselves an opportunity to play against the best.”
On his goals for 2012:
“Obviously the main goal is to get to the playoffs again and win a championship. I think that’s everybody’s goal at this point of the year. But again, ours is just to really work to find kind of what our identity’s gonna be this year. Obviously we have a Peyton Manning, we have some guys defensively. Our defense did great last year, they kept us in a lot of ball games, they won us a lot of ball games. We ran the ball well last year as well. We’re just trying to complement that with a good passing game. So I think just finding that balance and finding that identity that I was talking about, and really getting to that season and putting ourselves in a position where we’re healthy, making that push and that we can grind it out through January and February to make it to the main game, the main show.”
On if there’s any sense of relief that the Tim Tebow circus is gone now:
“Tebowmania. Yeah, obviously he’s earned the right to have conversations about him. I guess at the same time, to be honest with you it is nice just to kind of focus back on football, and we talk football and there’s not — there’s still a lot of excitement here with the football. I mean, he is a great teammate. I respect him greatly. But again, like you were saying, a lot of the focus right now is on football, is really talking about how we’re gonna form this team to win some ball games next year.”