Jets tackle Mekhi Becton answers questions during OTAs at Atlantic...

Jets tackle Mekhi Becton answers questions during OTAs at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J. on Wednesday, June 15, 2022. Credit: Noah K. Murray

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Mekhi Becton’s blue T-shirt covered a lot of ground. It didn’t just fit the 6-7 left tackle but it also contained “Big Bust” and other words that fuel Becton to prove the doubters wrong.

“I’m going to make them eat their words,” Becton said Wednesday.

The shirt said, “Big Bust” in big letters in the middle with “Fat. Lazy. Out Of Shape. Bum. Sucks. Overweight. Injury Prone” encircling it.

In his first public comments since last September, Becton said he’s been called those words his whole life. He felt similar things were said about him last year after a knee injury in Week 1 sidelined him the rest of the season.

Becton doesn’t understand why some have written him off already, but he’s using the criticism as extra motivation.

“It just adds fuel to the fire, honestly,” Becton said.

This could work out well for the Jets — if Becton comes into training camp in the best possible shape and can stay healthy. Those are two huge ifs considering Becton’s recent past.

When the Jets drafted Becton with the No. 11 pick in 2020, his size was viewed as an advantage. His weight has become a cause for a concern and may have contributed to his health issues last season.

Becton is listed at 363 pounds, but he reportedly weighed 400 pounds last year. He had plantar fasciitis  during OTAs last year and then fractured his kneecap in Week 1.

He was supposed to miss just 4-8 weeks, but he never returned. Becton said he “hit a wall” and didn’t have the strength in the knee to play his position.

After skipping the Jets voluntary offseason workouts because of the birth of his first child, Becton joined his teammates for the two-day mandatory minicamp that ended Wednesday. He worked with the trainers and performance staff both days, but he said his knee is fine and he’ll be ready for training camp.

“I’m feeling good physically,” Becton said. “Ready to go out there and play.

“I’m definitely coming back with that chip on my shoulder.”

Becton has been working out in Dallas with two personal trainers and noted offensive line coach Duke Manyweather. But Becton and coach Robert Saleh refused to divulge what the third-year tackle weighs.

All Becton would say is he and the coaches are “satisfied” with the number. Saleh also wouldn’t answer whether Becton was in shape or not.

“He’s got the next 40 days to continue to work and get himself ready to play football,” Saleh said.

As for the knee, Saleh said, “Structurally, he’s fine. It’s just a matter of him getting back into the overall football movements, which he’s progressing into. He looks good. He’s just got to continue working.”

Aside from health, the most important thing for Becton is to find a weight he’s comfortable playing at while still maintaining the quickness and athleticism he possesses for such a large man.

Saleh said it’s critical for all players to be as big as they can without sacrificing their speed. It’s even more critical for Becton to maintain a weight that doesn’t alter his ability to move.

“He’s got to find that,” Saleh said. “There is a balance, and he’s got to work with it. A guy his size he’s got to work harder than most. I mean his weight will fluctuate incredibly over a course of three days. It’s fascinating. But he is capable, he’s got the right mindset. He’s just got to piece it all together.”

When Becton returns in July, he will be competing with George Fant for the starting left tackle spot. Fant replaced Becton in Week 1 and played well enough to earn the right to keep the job. Becton, however, is confident he will be the Jets’ starting left tackle next year.

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

Becton said he’s fine playing right tackle as well. He just wants to be on the field and prove he can still be a people mover as he did his rookie season. Saleh wants the same.

“We’re all aware of the talent he possesses — the size, the athleticism, the physicality, all of it,” Saleh said. “And he’s really smart. Having him on the offensive line to move people off their spots so the running back has running lanes and the quarterback can sit in the pocket and buy a hitch, so yeah, he’s important.

“And if he takes care of his business like we know he can, he can be transcendent.”

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