Mekhi Becton thrilled to start for Jets, ‘really confident’ in knee

Mekhi Becton arrived in training camp a mystery, a major question mark for an offensive line that was considered the otherwise loaded team’s weak link.

But he is entering September a starter, showing how much has changed for him in a short period of time.

Ultimately, that’s all that mattered to the hulking 6-foot-7 lineman, that he is one of the first five up front protecting future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The talk in the past that he only considered himself a left tackle — Becton is the starter at right tackle with Duane Brown entrenched on the other side — became irrelevant.

“Sometimes you got to take a step back and put ego aside and just do what’s best for the team,” Becton said after Tuesday’s practice, in his first public comments since coach Robert Saleh named him the starter after Saturday’s preseason victory over the Giants. “That’s my main thing right now, just doing what’s best for the team. I want to be on that field with my teammates. … I wanted to be part of that five no matter what.”

When the Jets drafted Becton 11th overall in 2020, he was supposed to be the future of the offensive line at left tackle.

Mekhi Becton will start at right tackle for the Jets.
Mekhi Becton will start at right tackle for the Jets.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

He showed glimpses of immense promise as a rookie, but injuries and weight issues held him back.

He suffered an avulsion fracture of his right kneecap last August, ending his season abruptly.

Over the last year, Becton dedicated himself to getting into better condition and arrived for offseason workouts noticeably slimmer.

For the first time since college, he is down to 350 pounds — after weighing as much as 400 at one point.

Still, the Jets brought him along slowly.

Becton, 24, spent a bulk of camp getting second-team reps at left tackle.

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Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton (77) blocks Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Anthony Nelson (98) in the first half.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

But, as issues persisted at tackle, and Becton performed well, he was first moved to right tackle on the second team, then eventually the first.

He started the last two preseason games on the right side, and held up well leading to Saleh’s Saturday announcement.

It seemed to happen fast.

“It was pretty cool. It was a great moment for sure — for me — for all the work I put in these past few years,” he said. “It was definitely great.”

As for his knee, Becton isn’t concerned.

“I’ve been putting in all this work, I feel I have no chance but to be ready,” he said. “Even if I didn’t [play] a full game in the preseason, I feel like I’m still ready. …. I’m really confident in my knee, for sure. Just multiple reps of doing the same thing over and over every day. Just muscle memory at this point.”

During the preseason game against the Giants, Becton gave Rodgers a bear hug.

He wanted to tell his quarterback how much fun he was having.

Afterwards, Rodgers raved about the progress Becton has made, using the word “spectacular” to describe those strides forward.

There has been a completely different sentiment this summer about the large offensive tackle, and that includes the ways in which the Jets have supported him.

“I definitely got that feeling this year, other than the past two years when I was injured,” Becton said. “That’s understandable. I was injured. I’m not doing things the team [is doing]. I’m not expecting to be embraced as I am now. But I definitely feel a difference from when I was injured until now.”

There is obviously a long way to go.

Becton hopes this is just the first step.

Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton (77) works out at camp this summer.
Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton (77) works out at camp this summer.
Noah K. Murray-NY Post

On Sept. 11, he will appear in an NFL regular-season game for the first time since Sept. 12, 2021.

He isn’t content, however.

“I’m ready to put in some work,” Becton said.

He added: “I still got a lot more things I need to do.”