Decker out for rest of regular season

Tim Brewster announced today that the senior wide receiver could return for a possible bowl game.

Minnesota senior Eric Decker watches from the sideline during the Gophers 38-7 loss to Ohio State Saturday.

Minnesota senior Eric Decker watches from the sideline during the Gophers 38-7 loss to Ohio State Saturday.

Austin Cumblad

Senior wide receiver Eric Decker, who sprained his left foot in the first quarter Saturday against Ohio State, is out indefinitely, Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster announced Tuesday at his weekly press conference. âÄúWhat we hope is, we can possibly get Eric back for a bowl game, if that presents itself,âÄù Brewster said. Returning for a bowl game is the best-case scenario. Brewster said Decker is having the injury examined by several doctors and surgery may be necessary. âÄúIf surgery needs to take place, heâÄôll be out for an extended period of time,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúIf surgery doesnâÄôt need to take place, then hopefully weâÄôll get him back for the bowl game.âÄù The Gophers are currently 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten. This weekend they play against Michigan State in the first of three straight home games. They host Illinois and South Dakota State in the weeks following and finish the regular season on the road against Iowa. Minnesota must win twice to ensure a bowl game and the possibility of a final game for Decker. On the depth chart, sophomore DaâÄôJon McKnight replaces Decker at wide receiver. McKnight has yet to catch a pass in 2009. But McKnight alone wonâÄôt be asked to pick up all of DeckerâÄôs production. Fellow sophomore receivers Brandon Green and Troy Stoudermire can also expect to become more involved, and perhaps now more than ever, MinnesotaâÄôs ground game will need to find the consistency it has lacked in 2009. âÄúCollectively, everyoneâÄôs going to have to step up because itâÄôs really hard to replace a guy like Eric Decker,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúI think heâÄôs the best wide receiver in college football âÄî period.âÄù Despite missing most of the game at Ohio State and a quiet couple of games âÄî by his standards âÄî against Purdue and Penn State, Decker, who is the Gophers all-time leader in receptions, currently ranks second in the Big Ten in receiving yards per game (94.8) and fourth in receptions per game (6.25). He has accounted for five of the GophersâÄô eight receiving touchdowns. Decker is the second senior to suffer a season-ending injury in 2009. Center Jeff Tow-Arnett injured his right leg late in the fourth quarter of MinnesotaâÄôs 31-28 loss to Wisconsin on Oct. 3 and also will not play for the remainder of the regular season. âÄúThese are two young men that unfortunately are not being able to finish their senior seasons, and they mean a great deal to our football program,âÄù Brewster said. As one of the top wide receiver prospects for the 2010 NFL draft, DeckerâÄôs football career is hardly over, but junior quarterback Adam Weber, who is DeckerâÄôs roommate, said this is certainly not how Decker wanted to end his senior year. âÄúYou have all these expectations for the season and itâÄôs kind of a blow âÄî a big blow,âÄù Weber said. âÄúBut heâÄôs a strong person; heâÄôs strong mentally. If thereâÄôs anybody that can face adversity like this itâÄôd be Eric.âÄù Decker was not available Tuesday for further comment. -Marco LaNave contributed to this report.