Mekhi Becton of the Jets is helped off the field after...

Mekhi Becton of the Jets is helped off the field after being injured during the third quarter against the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 12 in Charlotte, N.C. Credit: Getty Images/Mike Comer

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Robert Saleh didn’t sound as optimistic about Mekhi Becton playing again this season as he did a few weeks ago.

Saleh said "hopefully" when he was asked about Becton returning before the Jets’ final game Jan. 9 in Buffalo. Becton is recovering from September knee surgery and still isn’t practicing.

After he underwent the procedure, Becton was expected to miss 4-8 weeks. He just passed the 11-week mark. Saleh said the Jets’ second-year left tackle "hasn’t had a setback or anything" and that he believed the timeline would be longer for Becton.

"I always felt like it was going to be more," Saleh said. "I’m not at all surprised or discouraged. He’s going to heal. He’ll be back and he’ll be fine."

Becton was on the field Wednesday, stretching and doing some jogging for the part of practice reporters were allowed to see. Becton’s conditioning certainly is a concern since he hasn’t played or practiced since Week 1. Questions arose about the 6-foot-7, 370-pound Becton’s conditioning leading up to the season.

He won’t return this week, leaving Becton just four games to get back on the field. Saleh said he’s "ready to think about" at what point Becton needs to practice before the Jets shut him down.

"He’s got a desire to play for his teammates, play for his family and all that," Saleh said. "Whether it’s one game, two games I don’t think it really matters to him. He just wants to get back on the field."

George Fant has played well in Becton’s place. Saleh wouldn’t answer where Becton would play even if he does return.

"I’ll speculate on that one later," Saleh said.

Saints stronger

New Orleans is expected to have running back Alvin Kamara back just in time to face the Jets’ 30th-ranked run defense. Kamara practiced in full after missing the past four games with a knee injury. Quarterback Taysom Hill also practiced in full after injuring his hand last game.

Quinnen honored

Quinnen Williams is the Jets’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which is given to players who excel on the field and make a big impact off it.

The Jets’ third-year defensive tackle does a lot of work with "The Quinnen Williams Foundation" and is as an ambassador for the American Cancer Society. Williams lost his mother to breast cancer when he was 12.

The winner will be announced during NFL Honors, the week of the Super Bowl.

Two-minute drill

C.J. Mosley (back), Michael Carter II (concussion protocol), Sheldon Rankins (knee), Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle), Ryan Griffin (knee/ankle) and Trevon Wesco (ankle) didn’t practice. … Rookie corner Brandin Echols (quad) was designated to return to practice from injured reserve. … The Jets signed safety Elijah Benton to the practice squad.

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