ENGLEWOOD Before Eric Deckers rookie season in Denver last year, about all he could do to stay in shape was pump iron at the gym while he recovered from an operation on his left foot.
It paid off with a buffed torso and thick neck that made him look more like a linebacker than a wide receiver.
He said he was too top-heavy, however, so he spent last offseason reshaping his body to become leaner and quicker, losing seven pounds off his 6-3 frame and 2 inches on his chest, neck and waist. Now, those toggled, hooded, heavyweight duffel coats he modeled for the photo shoot with GQ in 2010 dont fit him anymore.
Oh yeah, I got my shirts refitted; my neckline was too big; my chest was too big, Decker said. My legs are probably a little bit bigger, but my upper body is smaller.
Suiting him perfectly this year is his newfound role as one of quarterback Kyle Ortons top targets. Decker leads the Broncos with 20 receptions for 270 yards and four touchdowns. He also returned a punt for a touchdown, making him the first nonrunning back in team history to score five touchdowns in the first four games of a season.
Although this years lockout kept him out of organized team activities and minicamps for the second consecutive season, Decker worked out with a nutritionist and Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald in Phoenix and in Minneapolis and also participated in Brian Dawkins organized workouts in Denver, catching plenty of passes from Orton over the summer.
Coach John Fox praised him for being a true pro in both body and mind, and what impresses his coaches most is Deckers propensity to make up for mistakes with big plays.
If you play receiver and you havent dropped one or you havent fumbled one, you havent played, Fox said.