FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Mekhi Becton is expected to miss the entire 2022 season after suffering a fracture in his right kneecap.
The injury happened during Jets practice on Monday. Coach Robert Saleh confirmed there is a small fracture in Becton’s knee. Saleh said “it’s more than likely” the big offensive tackle will miss the season. Becton will receive a second opinion on Wednesday, but Saleh said it’s “probably inevitable” that his season is over.
“I’m sick for Mekhi,” Saleh said.
This is awful news for the Jets and Becton, their third-year tackle.
Becton appeared in only one game last year after dislocating his kneecap in Week 1. He battled back from that to get ready for this training camp, shedding weight to make sure he was under 400 pounds.
The Jets were happy with Becton’s condition and his willingness to move from his more natural left tackle spot to right tackle this season. By all accounts, Becton had been getting stronger each day. Saleh passionately praised Becton for how hard he worked and handled everything, especially how he was treated on social media.
“These are young men and I think sometimes with social media in this world we dehumanize these athletes in the worst way imaginable,” Saleh said. “Mekhi has walked in this building, and he has taken every single punch you can get in every which way. He shows up and he works his tail off and he grinds every single day.
“He shows up for camp and he’s fighting to get himself back in shape. He’s got videos of him vomiting and people are throwing shade. He’s limping and he’s doing all those different things. He’s fighting for his family, for himself, for his teammates, for this organization, for this fan base and he’s doing everything. And then everybody wants to drop him like a wet rag.”
There is concern about how Becton will return from this injury and whether he will ever be the same player.
Becton has appeared in only 15 games since the Jets took him with the No. 11 pick in 2020. Saleh said the Jets believe in Becton and will support him.
“We love Mekhi,” Saleh said. “We appreciate everything he’s done, and his ride is not over. His story is not over. He's got full support of this organization. If you’re a fan that wants to support him, you’re more than welcome. Otherwise just keep it moving. Lot of respect for him and really excited for him to come back even stronger and give himself a chance to show why he was a first-round pick.”
Saleh said this injury was unrelated to what happened to Becton last year. The Jets were optimistic after doing initial tests on Becton’s knee on Monday that it was only a sprain. But the MRI revealed it was something much more serious.
“They found all the different things with regard to the patella and kneecap,” Saleh said. “The deeper it got the worse it got.”
Quarterback Zach Wilson feels terribly for his teammate.
“It sucks, man,” Wilson said. “You don’t like dealing with that stuff. Unfortunately it’s part of football. It hurts even more for him just because of what he’s been battling back from from last year.”
The Jets need to find a tackle. The process began even before Becton got hurt as the Jets met with seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown over the weekend. General manager Joe Douglas said on WFAN Tuesday morning that the “wheels are in motion” with Brown, who will turn 37 on Aug. 30.
Saleh reiterated that the interest is “mutual.”
If the Jets sign Brown, they likely would move George Fant back to right tackle. Fant played left tackle in Becton’s place last year and was told he earned the job heading into this camp. Circumstances have changed, though.
Otherwise, the Jets have been using Chuma Edoga, Conor McDermott and rookie Max Mitchell as swing tackles. McDermott is recovering from an ankle injury and is expected to miss 1-2 weeks.
“The sense of urgency to get the next guy ready is always high,” Saleh said. “Chuma, McDermott, Max, they got to get going. We got to get them ready . . . We all have to step up and get them ready. As that evolves in camp, we’ll get them ready.”