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Fantasy Football: New York Jets fear WR Eric Decker may be seriously injured

By
Jerry Beach, The Sports Xchange
Better days: New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker leaps into the seats and celebrates with fans after catching a game-winning touchdown pass in overtime against the New England Patriots on Dec. 27. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Better days: New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker leaps into the seats and celebrates with fans after catching a game-winning touchdown pass in overtime against the New England Patriots on Dec. 27. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A costly loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday might have grown even more expensive on Wednesday for the New York Jets.

Wide receiver Eric Decker, the "2" in the Jets' 1-2 wide receiver punch, did not practice due to a lingering shoulder injury. Decker, who was not even present for the brief time media is allowed to observe practice, was listed as questionable on the injury report in the days leading up to a 24-3 loss to the Chiefs in which Decker was held to just one catch.

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Head coach Todd Bowles said he learned Tuesday that Decker aggravated the injury during Sunday's game. Bowles said he didn't know if Decker underwent an MRI -- he professed he'd have to speak to the training staff first to procure that information -- but ESPNNewYork.com reported the Jets are concerned the injury could be serious.

Bowles maintained his usual poker face when asked if Decker was in danger of missing Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

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"Not sure yet," Bowles said. "Anybody that doesn't practice, I'm concerned about. He came back last week without practicing, so we just have to wait and see."

Playing the Seahawks, a consensus favorite to contend for the NFC championship, at something less than full strength would be challenging enough. But after playing one of their worst games in recent memory against the Chiefs -- the eight turnovers were tied for the second-most in franchise history -- the Jets are in dire need of a positive statement game.

With that in mind, the typically restrained Bowles called a team meeting Monday, during which he inferred some paint in the locker room was peeled.

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"I have my days," Bowles said. "But we got the message."

Bowles said a main topic of the meeting was playing to the Jets' identity. Of course, he didn't reveal what that was, but it's easy enough to guess, given how the Jets nearly made the playoffs last year on the strength of a terrific defense and a productive offense that featured two 1,000-yard receivers (Eric Decker and no. 1 wideout Brandon Marshall) as well as the AFCs leading rusher in Chris Ivory, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a free agent.

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Ivory's replacement, Matt Forte, has been an upgrade. But quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick -- who threw six interceptions against the Chiefs -- has mostly been spotty coming off his six-month standoff with upper management and Marshall has played through ankle and knee injuries the last two games. Then there's the sieve-like pass defense, which is giving up an average gain of 8.3 yards per play, the second-highest figure in the league.

Now the Jets don't know when Decker might play again.

"Whether you win five in a row or lose five in a row, it still takes a couple of games to get your identity," Bowles said. "I think we know who we are. We just have to be who we are."

Whatever that is, and with whomever is on the field.

SERIES HISTORY: 19th regular season meeting, Seahawks lead series 10-8. The host Seahawks routed the Jets, 28-7, in the most recent game between the teams on Nov. 11, 2012. Only a fumble recovery for a touchdown by DE Muhammad Wilkerson kept the Jets from being shutout. This will be the first time the Jets host the Seahawks since 2004. The Jets won the most memorable game between the teams on Dec. 6, 1998, when they earned a 32-31 victory after QB Vinny Testaverde's controversial five-yard sneak for a touchdown in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Replays showed Testaverde was clearly stopped before he reached the end zone, which helped convince NFL owners to implement instant replay for good beginning the following season.

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GAME PLAN: For starters, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick cannot throw six interceptions again. Getting the Seahawks -- one of just two teams that's yet to allow a passing touchdown this season -- right after his debacle against the Kansas City Chiefs seems to be some kind of cruel and unusual punishment for Fitzpatrick. Running against the Seahawks, who are allowing an average of 3.5 yards per carry, won't be much easier, but the Jets will have no choice but to try and get Matt Forte going as both a rusher and a high-percentage pass-catching option out of the backfield.

The Jets' defensive task should theoretically be a little bit easier with QB Russell Wilson batting left knee and right ankle injuries. But Wilson's compromised mobility will limit his scrambling and potentially increase the amount of risks he's willing to take downfield with WRs Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse against a struggling Jets secondary. A vaunted Jets run defense is also likely to get its strongest test of the season against Seahawks RB Christine Michael, who ranks sixth in the NFL with 5.2 yards per carry.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--WR Brandon Marshall vs. CB Richard Sherman: This one will be rated "R" for language. Marshall and Sherman are each amongst the best "talkers" in the game, but if the Jets are to have a chance to knock off the Seahawks, a banged-up Marshall will have to regain his form against the modern-day Darrelle Revis.

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--SS Calvin Pryor vs. TE Jimmy Graham: Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (six catches for 89 yards and one touchdown) had a field day last Sunday against Pryor, who felt compelled to Tweet "I have to perform better" a few hours after the 24-3 defeat. Things won't get any easier this week for Pryor as he goes against Graham, who has made a remarkable recovery from a torn patellar tendon to again become one of the Seahawks' top two passing game weapons.

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