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Make or Break : can Mekhi Becton stay on field for Jets in 2023 ?


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June 26, 2023 
NFL training camp starts at the end of July, which means players around the league are getting their last bits of offseason work in before the real work of trying to make the roster begins.For certain players, this season is what some may call “Make or Break,” meaning they need to put together a productive year or they could be looking for employment elsewhere at the end of the 2023-24 campaign.We’ll highlight those players for the Jets, starting with offensive tackle Mekhi Becton.

2020 Stats (only played half a game total in 2021 and 2022)

- 14 games (13 starts)

- 23 total pressures allowed, including seven sacks

- Two offensive penalties

Why Make or Break?

As Becton entered his second NFL season in 2021, optimism was high that he had the potential to develop into one of the league’s elite tackles. Unfortunately for him, he suffered a knee injury in the first game and -- although the initial prognosis suggested he should be back by midseason -- he was unable to return to the field.As a result, 2022 was already considered a make-or-break season for Becton, with doubts already circulating about his ability to stay in shape. Disaster struck during training camp, when Becton went down with another knee injury in practice and was diagnosed with a season-ending avulsion fracture.

There’s been uncertainty about whether he can secure a starting role, which side of the formation he’s going to play on and if he’s going to be able to play at all during the offseason. But, to his credit, Becton seems to be in fantastic shape and is determined to prove his doubters wrong.The Jets, unsurprisingly, opted not to exercise Becton’s fifth-year option, which means he’ll be out of contract at the end of the season. This gives Becton all the motivation he’ll ever need to prove himself worthy of a big-money deal.

What will break it?

Initial indications are that Becton will compete with Duane Brown for starting left tackle, but that’s a tall order. Brown, the five-time Pro Bowl pick, played most of the 2022 season with a torn rotator cuff and was still one of the Jets’ best linemen. Until recently, he’s been one of the league’s elite tackles and -- with the injury behind him -- will be looking to prove he is still capable of playing at that level, despite now being 37.Becton has been forthright in his assertion that he wants to be the left tackle, but it’s obvious head coach Robert Saleh trusts Brown -- and he has already indicated that it’s going to be difficult to beat him out.

What will become of Becton if Brown is named as the starter, though? Becton could be asked to start the season at right tackle, as was the plan last season, but he has expressed concern that this could put more strain on his surgically repaired knee than playing on the left. There are also some viable candidates to start on the right side, including Max Mitchell and Billy Turner.Obviously, the other thing that could break Becton’s season would be more injury setbacks. This would be really unfortunate given how hard he’s worked to get himself in the kind of shape that makes an injury less likely. Even so, he’s still a very large man and even a minor issue like a twisted ankle could be a setback he can ill afford as he looks to re-establish his reputation and earn back Saleh’s trust.

What will make it?

In a dream scenario, Becton shows up to training camp in the shape of his life and plays so well that the Jets can’t deny him the left tackle position he considers his own. Most people seem to be predicting that Becton ends up as the starting right tackle, though. Still, he could still have a solid year there and re-establish himself as the left tackle of the future in the process. There’s no guarantee that Brown starts 17 games either.Becton is a confident player but must try to maintain a consistent approach through camp and not get too frustrated if things don’t go his way from the outset in training camp. Although he’s in shape and has immense talent, he might need to shake off some rust in terms of his technique -- and let’s not forget that he’s also going to be learning a brand-new offense.

Of course, if Becton does have a great season, then the Jets’ refusal to exercise his fifth-year option could come back to bite them. For now, though, the Jets hope to see Becton finally delivering on his potential and worry about that situation down the road.

 >>  Make or Break: Can Mekhi Becton stay on field for Jets in 2023? (yahoo.com)

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