FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — By the time the Jets were walking off after their training camp practice at about 12:30 Monday afternoon, the sticky air felt as if it were 100 degrees. But Mekhi Becton had long since left the high heat behind.
The extra large right tackle reinjured his right knee. He was blocking on the second play of team drills when it happened. He was down on the ground for a bit, then got up and eventually hobbled off to get checked out.
This is the same knee he hurt Week 1 at Carolina last season when he dislocated his kneecap, sprained his MCL and suffered cartilage damage. He underwent surgery and his season was over.
Robert Saleh didn’t seem to be sweating over this latest twist, based on a preliminary evaluation. But Becton was headed for an MRI.
“The only thing I’ve got is that it’s stable and it seems fine,” the Jets coach said. “That’s preliminary, obviously. He’s going to get it checked for precautionary reasons. As of now, it doesn’t seem like it’s a big deal.”
However, a league source Monday night confirmed reports that the Jets are more concerned about Becton’s knee injury than earlier in the day. It’s unrelated to Becton’s knee injury last year.
Becton’s issue last year wasn’t supposed to be a season-ending deal.
“I think it’s different …” Saleh said. "I’m Optimistic Oliver. But I think he’s going to be fine.”
The Jets took Becton with the 11th overall pick in the 2020 draft as a big building block at left tackle. He’s 6-7 and listed at 363 pounds. There were reports of him reaching 400 after he got hurt last season. Becton hasn’t stated his actual current weight, but he has worked with a nutritionist.
Now there’s a question of how much time he will miss and if his size will impact the timetable even more.
“You just don’t want to get into a deficit of conditioning,” Saleh said. “He is a big man. He’s been working his tail off. He’s been doing everything he’s been asked to do. So hopefully everything checks out good, the way we think it’s going to, and he can continue on his track.”
George Fant, who is also coming off knee surgery, excelled in Becton’s place in 2021. The Jets decided to keep him at left tackle and move Becton to right tackle.
Becton started using a brace last week. Then he had his snaps limited during Saturday night’s scrimmage at MetLife Stadium.
“That was the first time we had been on the fake stuff,” Saleh said of the turf. “We just wanted to make sure we gave him just enough dosage to see how he felt off that day, which everything checked out great."
The tackle depth took another hit Saturday night. Conor McDermott hurt his left ankle. Saleh said he will miss a week or two.
The team hosted 36-year-old free agent left tackle Duane Brown at Saturday night's scrimmage. He made the Pro Bowl last season with Seattle. He could be an option. Besides McDermott, fourth-year vet Chuma Edoga is the other primary swing tackle on reserve duty.
“Chuma’s got all the ability in the world,” Saleh said. “He’s just trying to find his consistency.”
Saleh said Becton’s latest issue “doesn’t create panic at all, in my mind anyway.”
“I think we do really like our backup situation,” Saleh said. “I know McDermott’s hurt. He’ll be back. He’ll be fine. He’s started games for us. Chuma’s started games for us. Getting a guy like Duane Brown is kind of being spoiled in a sense of just having so much great talent at one position.”