FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Mekhi Becton was back practicing for the first time in 10 months and playing a new position.
There will be no left tackle competition after all between Becton and George Fant during Jets training camp. Following the first camp practice, Robert Saleh announced that Becton would play right tackle this season.
After Becton fractured his kneecap last year in Week 1 at Carolina, Fant played well at left tackle, and Saleh sees no reason to move him from that spot.
“We don’t want those guys jumping back and forth,” Saleh said Wednesday. “We made the decision that was best for the team. George had a fantastic year last year at left tackle. Mekhi is a gifted young man. It doesn’t mean that Mekhi’s left tackle days are over.”
Becton said in June that he was ready to win back his left tackle job, but he handled the Jets’ decision well.
“I’m just trying to get on the field and play a full season,” Becton said. “That’s really my mindset. Whether it’s right or left, I don’t even care as long as I’m one of the five on the field.”
That’s what the Jets want too. Becton, who played only 48 snaps last season, has put himself in position to do that by coming into camp in far better shape than he was last year.
The 6-7 Becton, whose weight ballooned to over 400 pounds last year, spent most of June and July at the Jets’ facility working with the trainers and strength and conditioning staff. He wouldn’t reveal how much he weighed, but he said he reached his goal.
“I did,” Becton said. “I feel really good where I’m at right now.”
Saleh praised Becton for sticking around and working hard to get ready for his third NFL season.
“He got himself into football shape,” Saleh said. “He’s a gifted athlete. He’s a gifted man. I’m really excited about the direction he’s going.”
When asked what having Becton on the field would mean for the Jets, Saleh said, “A healthy Mekhi is special.”
Becton is still working through rust and must learn to play a new position, but he said he felt great in his first practice and can’t wait to build on it. He’s also looking forward to playing alongside second-year guard Alijah Vera-Tucker again.
The duo was viewed last year as the future left side of the line. When the Jets signed Pro Bowl left guard Laken Tomlinson, they moved Vera-Tucker to right guard. Saleh is very high on the young right side of the line.
“Personally, I’m excited about the right side,” Saleh said. “We got a couple of potential All-Pros in my opinion. They’re two fantastic young players.”