FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The new Jets quarterback (Zach Wilson) and the old Jets quarterback (Sam Darnold) kick off the season against each other Sunday when the Jets play at Carolina. But is Darnold’s old blindside bodyguard and Wilson’s new blindside bodyguard really ready?
Mekhi Becton is a giant of a Jet at 6-7, 363 (or so) pounds. The second-year left tackle flashed some serious blocking ability across 14 games as a first-round rookie.
But he didn’t have the healthiest spring. Nor the healthiest summer. He has been trying to transition to the new outside zone blocking system. He also struggled in training camp practices to protect against the pass-rushing prowess of Carl Lawson.
So have the clouds cleared for Becton in time for Week 1?
"I feel really ready," Becton said after Friday’s practice.
Becton was involved in a helmet-to-helmet collision during a joint practice against Philadelphia here on Aug. 24. He went into the concussion protocol for two weeks and just returned on Wednesday. He said he feels great now.
"He’s practiced, but he hasn’t played in a couple of weeks," coach Robert Saleh said. "But I’m expecting him to pick up where he left off in Green Bay [in the second preseason game on Aug. 21], and obviously this first week and every week moving forward get a little bit better and showcase why he’s the type of left tackle that deserves to be special."
Saleh previously dismissed any concerns over Becton’s weight. He thinks Becton will excel despite the system change.
"I’m not even worried about him," Saleh said. "He’s going to be fine. Pass setting is pass setting. So I’m expecting him to be dominant like he has been. From a run-game standpoint, he moves people. That’s what he does best. So it’s going to be fun to watch him play."
It wasn’t fun for him getting beaten frequently by Lawson, who suffered a season-ending Achilles injury during a joint practice with Green Bay on Aug. 19. That was the day offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said Becton was "going through some things" in regard to his play.
"I’m not going to lie," Becton said. "I was a little confused about it. But it is what it is. I’ve overcome it."
Becton felt he performed much better in his two preseason games as opposed to the practices. He pointed to missing OTAs with plantar fasciitis.
"I feel like that’s what really messed me up," Becton said. "So I’m not going to miss OTAs again. Going against Carl every day, I could’ve been better."
But those clashes were big for Becton.
"It’s going to prepare me really well because he’s a different type of rusher," Becton said. "So I’m going to be good, I feel like."
Notes & quotes: Receiver Jamison Crowder (COVID-19) will miss Sunday’s game. Saleh said receiver Keelan Cole (knee) is "going to go down to the wire." He didn’t practice and is questionable. So is running back La’Michal Perine (foot). Safety Sharrod Neasman (hamstring) is out.