Florham Park, NJ ( Associated Press) — Mekhi Becton’s bright blue T-shirt said it all.
Words like “fat,” “lazy,” “out of shape,” “injury prone,” “overweight” and “bom” drew a circle of criticism for making the “big bust” in the middle attractive.
“Too many words have been called to me all my life,” the New York Jets’ offensive tackle said Wednesday. “So I put it on a shirt.”
Yes, Becton has heard his detractors. He has read his comments on social media. And he knows that something has already written him.
“Yeah, and I don’t understand why,” said Becton, shaking his head. “However, it’s all good. I’m going to force them to eat their words.”
While most of the Jets’ focus is on the progress of second-year quarterback Zach Wilson, the most interesting player on the team. Maybe Becton.
Louisville’s total number 11 pick out in 2020 had a promising rookie season as a punishing blocker, whose size — 6-foot-7 and 363 pounds — and pace made him a potential jumbo-sized superstar. But Becton struggled with a leg injury before training camp last year, then had to learn a new offensive system under coordinator Mike LaFleur before a knee injury wiped out his season in Week 1.
Becton removed his right knee cap and sprained his MCL, injuries he had previously been expected to side with for several weeks. But that changed over the months, and eventually throughout the season. George Fant stepped in and played well, and suddenly Becton’s role in the team became uncertain.
“It was really a lot of adversity,” Becton said. “There’s just a lot to come, trying to be better than what you did in your initial year and just getting injured and being out all season, that’s a lot. It’s a lot to handle. But I’m sure I’m definitely coming back with that chip on my shoulder.”
When the Jets regrouped for a voluntary off-season program in April, Becton stayed in the Dallas area to work with his own team of trainers — keeping in touch with the team — and be with his fiancée, who recently gave birth to their first child. Sharp criticism of Becton has since escalated from outside the facility.
“It just adds fuel to the fire, honestly,” Becton said in his first meeting with reporters since last September. “It does just that.”
It’s officially comeback season for the guy whose Twitter username is “trending topics.”
He said, ‘I am feeling good physically. “Ready to go out there and play.”
Becton spent two mandatory minicamp practice sessions at the trainers’ area, working out and doing some light running with other players who were coming back from injuries. He said his knee is getting stronger and he hopes to be fully ready to practice when training camp begins in late July.
“He looks good,” said coach Robert Saleh. “He’s here, so it’s good.”
Becton’s weight has fluctuated during his brief NFL career, reportedly hitting 400 pounds at one point. He is listed at 363, but both Becton and Saleh declined to reveal what the offensive lineman’s weight is now.
“I’m not saying numbers right now,” Becton said. “I am satisfied with where I am and with the coaching staff.”
This does not mean that he is currently at his optimum sporting weight. And this is also the cause of some debate.
Offensive line coach John Benton said, “Mekhi is very special in that sense – that’s why she has that talent because she can be as quick and athletic as others can’t even come close to tackling her.” ” “Your prototype guy who’s playing at 360 or 370 (pounds) would really struggle in this offense, but Mekhi isn’t in that vein. …
“That’s what I’m really looking for: Is he moving well? I don’t really care if he’s a 380 or a 340, for that matter, if he’s moving well and this doing all kinds of things.”
The Jets still have high hopes from Becton, despite playing just 15 of 33 games in his first two seasons.
“We all know the talent, the size, the athleticism, the physicality that he has, and he’s really smart,” Saleh said. “If he takes care of business like we know he can, he can excel.”
Saleh has already said that Becton and Fant will compete for left tackle this season, with the “loser” of the competition shifting to the right. Fant has already proven that he can play in both places in the NFL, while the right tackle will be new for Becton at this stage.
“It’s football,” Becton said. “We’re always going to compete no matter what. I just have to go out there and get my job back.”
And if he can recapture the success he enjoyed as a rookie, the Jets’ offensive line could be a much better unit this season.
Way forward with your eldest man.
“I’m coming back to try to be the best I can be,” Becton said. “It’s that simple. I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘I’m going to get this honor or this honor.’ I’m just going to go out there and be the best I can.”
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