FLORHAM PARK, NJ — New York Jets right tackle Mekhi Becton has an MRI on his surgically repaired right knee after limping off the practice field Monday due to apparent soreness.
The injury does not appear serious, according to the Jets, but any time lost is potentially significant as Becton has battled weight and conditioning issues.
“As of right now, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but – knock on wood – hopefully that remains the case,” said coach Robert Saleh, who described the MRI as precautionary.
The 2020 first-round pick injured his right knee in the 2021 season opener and never played again even though the team initially called it a four-to-six week return from surgery.
On Monday, he worked through early offensive drills, checking his knee and moving cautiously. A few minutes later, on the second play of an 11-on-11 period, Becton fell backwards after being rocked by a defensive end. John Franklin-Myers. His right foot seemed to get caught in the grass, possibly causing his knee to bend awkwardly.
Becton removed his shoulder pads and immediately limped to the locker room with members of the coaching staff. He started wearing a knee brace last Friday, an indication that he may have started to feel discomfort.
The injury occurred two days after the Jets settled for free-agent tackle Duane Brown, who attended the Jets’ annual Green & White scrimmage at MetLife Stadium. They remain interested in Brown, a five-time Pro Bowl selection who turns 37 on Aug. 30.
With Becton’s injury, and with a backup swingman Conor McDermott sidelined one to two weeks with a sprained ankle, there is a greater sense of urgency to add an experienced tackle. Starting left tackle George Fant is also returning from knee surgery, although he is healthy and training.
Saleh downplayed the team’s interest in Brown, saying they have “such great talent” at tackle and that Brown would be a luxury.
“It doesn’t create panic in my mind at all,” Saleh said. “A guy like Duane is a bonus.”
However, there must be concern given Becton’s injury history. He started just 14 of 33 games in two seasons, including six games he didn’t finish due to various injuries. His weight became a major storyline last season, when he ballooned to about 400 pounds while recovering from surgery.
He was overweight at the June minicamp, which frustrated the organization, but he worked out at the facility before training camp and reported in acceptable shape. Saleh praised Becton for powering through the first nine practices as he worked his way back into football shape.
Now it could be a challenge if he has to miss time.
“We’ll see if he takes time off,” Saleh said. “Obviously, you’re worried about everybody … You just don’t want to go into a conditioning deficit. He’s a big man. He’s worked his tail off and he’s done everything he’s asked to do. Hopefully, he checks out well as we think he’s going to go and he can continue on this track. I think he’ll be good.”