Jets’ Mekhi Becton will make haters ‘eat their words’

Jets’ Mekhi Becton will make haters ‘eat their words’

Mekhi Becton’s choice of t-shirt told the story.

Becton wore a blue T-shirt to his session with reporters with orange lettering featuring the words “Big Bust” in the center surrounded by the words “fat, lazy, out of shape, injury prone, bum, shit, overweight.”

Becton said the t-shirt was a reminder of what people were saying about him. After a promising rookie season in 2020, Becton missed almost all of 2021 and appears to have been written off by some people.

“I don’t understand why,” Becton said in his first interview since last September. “But it’s all good. I’ll make them eat their words.”

The Jets hope so, anyway. The 2020 first-round pick is a key element for the 2022 team. If Becton can regain the form he showed as a rookie and manages to stay healthy, the offensive line will take a big step forward.

Becton is returning from the knee injury he sustained in Week 1 last year, an injury that cost him the season. Both he and head coach Robert Saleh said the knee has now fully recovered and Becton is expected to be on the field when training camp opens in late July.

Mekhi Becton wears a t-shirt with the words "Big bust" at center during a Jets press conference on Wednesday.Mekhi Becton wears a T-shirt with “Big Bust” written down the center at a Jets press conference on Wednesday. Bill Kostroun/New York Post

“We’re all aware of his talent, the height, the athleticism, the physicality, all that, and he’s really smart,” Saleh said. “[It helps] Having him on the offensive line to get people out of their seats so the running back has running lanes and the quarterback can sit in the pocket and buy a hitch. So yes, he is important. If he takes care of business as we know he can, he can be transcendent.”

The biggest question about Becton is how tall he is.

It’s no secret that Becton has struggled to keep his weight down. As a rookie, he was heavily fined for letting his weight get too high and was rumored to have passed 400 pounds last year when he was injured.

Mekhi Becton speaks during the Jets' minicamp on June 15, 2022.Mekhi Becton speaks during the Jets’ minicamp on June 15, 2022. Bill Kostroun/New York Post

A closer view of Mekhi Becton's t-shirt.A close-up of Mekhi Becton’s t-shirt. Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Neither Becton nor Saleh would reveal Becton’s weight right now. Becton said he and the coaching staff are happy with his weight. Saleh wasn’t that convincing.

“I won’t go into those details, but he’s fine,” Saleh said.

That was in stark contrast to Saleh gushing about conditioning quarterback Zach Wilson and wide receiver Denzel Mims. You have to keep in mind that if Becton came back in great form Saleh would be praising him up and down.

Saleh acknowledged that a tall man like Becton, who weighed 363 pounds when called up, found it harder to control his weight than smaller players.

“A man his size has to work a little harder than most,” Saleh said. “His weight will fluctuate incredibly over the course of about three days. It is fascinating. He is capable. He has the right attitude. He just has to put everything together.”

Becton spent the volunteer portion of the off-season in Texas awaiting the birth of his first child and spending time with his son after his birth. During the obligatory mini-camp this week, Becton didn’t take part in training, but instead worked with the coaching staff on the side.

Mekhi Becton at Jets practice on June 14, 2022.Mekhi Becton at Jets practice on June 14, 2022.Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Big things were expected of Becton last season but his knee injury in Week 1 put an end to them. The initial prognosis was that Becton would return in 4-8 weeks but he was unable to regain enough strength in his knee to come back.

“It was really like a lot of adversity,” Becton said of last season. “Just trying to get better from what you did in the rookie year and then being out all season is a lot to accomplish. I’m definitely coming back with that chip on my shoulder.”

Saleh said that winter that Becton would have to fight for the left seed with George Fant, who had played well in Becton’s place last season. Becton said he’s open to playing anywhere on the field but clearly wants to return to left tackle.

“It’s football,” Becton said. “We will always compete no matter what. I just have to go out and get my job back.”

Becton made no Pro Bowl predictions Wednesday but made his goal clear.

“I’m coming back to try and do my best. It’s that simple,” Becton said. “I’m not going to sit here and say I’m going to get this award or this award. I’m going to get out of there and do the best I can.”