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Mekhi Becton Answers Minicamp Questions Both Vocally and Via T-Shirt

Jets' Mammoth Tackle, Who Missed Virtually All of '21 Season, Says Criticism 'Just Adds Fuel to the Fire'


There were some questions that Jets tackle Mekhi Becton and head coach Robert Saleh were not going to answer about Becton after he rejoined his teammates Wednesday for the first practice of the Jets full-squad minicamp.

His weight? "I feel like I'm close," Becton said. "I'm not saying numbers right now. Yeah, I'm satisfied where I'm at, me and the coaching staff."

Saleh was equally tight-lipped about the tackle's poundage. "I'm not going to get into those details," the coach said, "but he's fine."

But both said Becton's knee was good and that they expected him to be in uniform when the Jets' training camp begins in late July.

Yet while the two replied vocally to most questions, the big tackle answered one question emphatically without uttering a sound. It was all on his custom-made blue and red T-shirt.

The circular ring of quick-hitting phrases read: "Fat. Lazy. Out of Shape. Overweight. Injury Prone." And in case that didn't get the job done, the circle of verbiage surrounded two large words in the middle that captured a theme: "Big Bust."

"For sure," Becton said when asked if he'd perhaps obviously heard criticisms from outside the team about his 2021 season that was virtually lost in its entirety due to a knee injury suffered in the season opener at Carolina. "It just adds fuel to the fire, honestly.

"I don't understand why" people were writing him off during the past season on into this offseason, he said. "But I'm going to make them eat their words."

Jets fans are rooting for the big guy out of Virginia and the University of Louisville. He began his career with a bang, throwing his then-program-weight 355 pounds around at left tackle like an 11th pick of the draft should. He played in 14 games, starting 13, gave up a handful of sacks but was flagged for only one holding call all year, at Buffalo in the '20 season opener, and that one was declined.

He wasn't as dominant in his sophomore season in green and white — one game, one start, 46 plays. After the opener, Saleh said Becton had suffered a four-to-six-week injury. But the games and weeks rolled on and Becton still remained out of action, ultimately missing the rest of the season.

"I was just trying to get mostly my range of motion back," Becton said about whether he suffered a setback later last season ."I got the range of motion, but I didn't have the strength. That was a really big problem."

Everyone on the Jets hopes that problem is history. Saleh said Becton will work with the team's performance staff the rest of this short-week minicamp, then will spend the next 40 days or so continuing to rehab and "get himself ready to play football."

But what position will Becton achieve that readiness at? Left tackle or right tackle? That was another question Saleh wasn't ready to expound on, although he did say about a position battle between Becton and George Fant, "We'll figure that out in the next couple of days."

Becton's position is that he's ready for a battle, plans to be at LT, but is ready for whatever comes his way.

"It's football. We're always going to compete, no matter what," he said of Fant, who moved in at LT after Becton's injury and started 14 of the Jets' last 16 games there. "I'm just going to have to go out there and get my job back. But I'm hoping to play wherever, as long as I'm on the field."

Of all the things said at these two minicamp news conferences, Saleh's spoken statement about Becton's importance to the '22 Jets perhaps spoke the loudest.

"Every player is important to every position," he said. "The rosters are so small, every player matters. We're all aware of the talent that Mekhi possesses, the size, the, athleticism, the physicality, all of it, and he's really smart. So having him on the offensive line to move people off their spot so the running back has running lanes and the quarterback can sit in the pocket and buy a hitch, yeah, he's important.

"And if he takes care of his business like we know he can, he can be transcendent."

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