RT Mekhi Becton on Starting Job: 'A Block I Have to Build On'

Jets Top Pick in 2020 Draft Says He Feels the Love from Teammates

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The Jets' offensive line might have been the last of the team's groups to come together but starting right tackle Mekhi Becton said on Tuesday that "the five" will let their play do the talking.

"It definitely motivated us," Becton said, referring to questions that emerged about the offensive line throughout training camp. "We're not going to say too many things, we're just going to go out there and ball out like we're supposed to."

After the Jets victory over the Giants last Saturday night in the preseason finale, head coach Robert Saleh named Becton as the starting RT ahead of the season opener against the visiting Buffalo Bills on Monday night, Sept. 11. Becton will be reunited with guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, but on the right side with Duane Brown and Laken Tomlinson holding down the blind side of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Veteran Connor McGovern returns as the starting center, having won the job over rookie Joe Tippmann.

Becton, who was drafted as a left tackle with the 11th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, said any of his initial reticence to the position switch melted away as he worked his way back to fitness.

"Sometimes you've got to take a step back and put ego aside and do what's best for the team," Becton said. "The main thing now is that I want to be on the field with my teammates. That was my expectation coming in [moving from left to right] and I wanted to be a part of the five no matter what. I wouldn't say I'm surprised [to be starting]. I put in more work, but I've got more to do. It's a block I have to build on."

Becton sustained a season-ending cartilage injury to his right knee in Week 1 at Carolina of the 2021 season. He then fell victim to a different knee injury during training camp in 2022.

"I've been putting in all this work," he said. "I've had no choice but to be ready, even if I didn't do four [games] in preseason. I'm ready. I'm really confident in my knee for sure, I've taken multiple reps doing things over and over. It's muscle memory at this point."

Becton played 25 snaps against the Giants in the two series the first-team offense played as Rodgers led the Green & White to a touchdown (on a 14-yard pass to WR Garrett Wilson) on the Jets' second possession of the 32-24 win. Becton and Rodgers embraced on the sideline after that series. Becton said he's felt more of a collective embrace this season than during his two years on ice.

"I definitely got that feeling this year more than in the past," he said. "It's understandable. I was injured. Not doing things with the team. I wasn't expecting to be embraced. There's definitely a difference between then and now."

Asked if he was surprised about how quickly he won a starting job, Becton said: "I don't think it's surprising. My motto is stay ready, so you don't have to get ready. I was always ready, waiting for my number to be called."

After Saturday's game, Rodgers acknowledged and praised Becton after navigating his long road back.

"It is amazing to see when you empower people and when you encourage people and you wrap your arms around people, you see their personality start to come out, you see the confidence start to grow.," Rodgers said. "And I think that's what we've tried to do with Mekhi and make him feel like he's a part of this and make him feel important. And he's returned that love and trust and support with a lot of really good play."

Becton, who recently became a father, described his mindset in simple terms.

"It's cool," he said. "I'm happy. It's been a lot of fun. I'm ready to go and do some work."

See the best images of the Jets on the field Tuesday afternoon to kick off the final preseason week of 2023.

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