FOXBORO — The bad news: Eric Decker has had a pretty rough beginning to his New England Patriots career.
The good news: It’s only been 11 days, and the veteran wide receiver should get more opportunities to prove himself as he battles for a roster spot.
Patriots wideout Chris Hogan, however, firmly believes Decker can turn things around after watching the 31-year-old operate for a week and a half.
“He’s a smart kid,” Hogan said of Decker after Monday’s practice at Gillette Stadium. “He really has come in here and worked really hard, trying to study the playbook. It’s not like things are slowing down here. We’re only moving a lot faster. I think he’s doing a very good job of coming in here and studying the stuff, getting ready to go so he can go out there and play and mix in all over the place.”
Decker has noted the challenges of picking up the Patriots’ playbook — even one designed by offensive Josh McDaniels, who was Decker’s head coach on the Denver Broncos in 2010 — since signing with the team on Aug. 2. That “overthinking” may be causing some physical mistakes, notably, a rash of dropped passes over the last few practices.
But even as he tries to get up to speed, the ninth-year wideout still can serve as a useful resource for the position group, which currently includes five players — Phillip Dorsett, Devin Lucien, Riley McCarron, Paul Turner and rookie Braxton Berrios — age 25 or under.
“I think for a guy like him, once he starts to learn the offense a little bit — obviously he’s had a lot of success over his career, so he knows how to run routes, he knows how to get open, he knows how to catch the ball,” Hogan said of Decker.
“So, I think he brings that sort of experience to the whole room for anyone who needs questions about man-to-man routes or zone routes or whatever it is. I think Deck’s really coming in here and focusing on learning the offense, trying to go out there and do just job so he can play fast.”
As for those drops: Hogan is confident Decker will turn the page quickly.
“I mean, you’ve got to move on. Short-term memory,” Hogan added. “This is not something that you can just sit here and dwell on one drop or a mistake. This is a fast-paced game, and you can’t dwell on the one play. Next play and focus in and do your job and try to make the play if it comes to you next.”
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images