Mekhi Becton joined the Jets this week for mandatory minicamp after skipping the team's voluntary offseason workouts. The hulking offensive tackle returned with a message.
Coming off a year in which he missed all but one game in 2021 due to a knee injury, the former first-round pick is setting out to prove his doubters wrong.
"(To) come better than what you did the rookie year and then just to get hurt and be out all season, it's a lot," said Becton, who wore a shirt Wednesday that read "Big Bust" on the front. "It's a lot to handle, but I'm definitely coming back with that chip on my shoulder."
Becton suffered a dislocated kneecap and an MCL sprain during last year's season opener. He was initially given a 4-5 week recovery time but would go on to miss the rest of the season. Not being able to regain the strength in his injured knee resulted in it turning into a season-ending injury, according to Becton.
"It's good. It's getting better," Becton said of his knee. "Getting the strength back in it."
Becton, who's listed at 6-foot-7, 363 pounds, received a heap of criticism about his weight as his absence persisted through voluntary OTAs. Though he wouldn't disclose his current weight, the 23-year-old said that he and the coaching staff were "satisfied" with where he's at.
Becton indicated that he will be ready for training camp. Following a season where George Fant successfully filled the left tackle spot in Becton's place, there's a looming competition to be had this summer.
"It's football. We're always going to compete no matter what," said Becton. "I'm just going to have to go out there and get my job back."
Though Becton anticipates regaining the left tackle spot, the third-year pro didn't shun the idea of playing on the right side, where he's had experience in college.
"I'm hoping to play wherever," he said. "As long as I'm on the field."
Competition for the left tackle spot isn't necessarily a bad problem to have for the Jets. By adding guard Laken Tomlinson via free agency this offseason and Alijah Vera-Tucker now experienced after starting as a rookie, the unit is looking to be in great shape on paper.
A strong O-line will only expedite quarterback Zach Wilson's development, which is priority No. 1 for the Jets franchise. With that in mind, head coach Robert Saleh was happy to see Becton back on the field and he believes the sky is the limit if he's able to harness the potential he's shown.
"Obviously we are all aware of the talent he possesses. The size, the athleticism, the physicality, all of it, and he's really smart," Saleh told reporters Wednesday. "Having him on the offensive line to move people off their spot 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."