An athlete using their haters as their motivation is the biggest cliche in sports.
But Mekhi Becton, the Jets’ polarizing former first-round pick, is carrying motivation on his chest, literally.
During Becton’s media availability on Wednesday, he sported a shirt that read “Big Bust” circled with words like “Fat, lazy, injury prone, out of shape.”
Those labels have been levied on the former standout tackle out of Louisville as Becton’s last year and half with Gang Green has been contentious.
It’s led to doubts and questions about his future with the Jets and if he can truly fulfill the potential that made him the 11th overall pick in the 2020 draft.
But Becton has one message for the critics.
“I’ll make them eat their words,” Becton said.
The embattled tackle showed up to mandatory minicamp, which was the first time he has participated in offseason practices. Becton rehabbed during practice with Carl Lawson, C.J. Uzomah, D.J. Reed, George Fant and Jamien Sherwood.
Becton is still working himself back into the proper football shape to attack the 2022 season. He is still regaining the strength in his knee after missing the majority of the 2021 season after suffering a devastating injury in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers.
There’s been a lot of talk regarding Becton’s weight. He wouldn’t provide an answer on his weight, but he’s “satisfied” with where his weight is and expects to be ready by training camp.
When head coach Robert Saleh was asked about Becton’s weight, he punted on giving a clear update on Becton’s physical condition.
“I’m not going to get into those details,” Saleh said. “But he’s fine.”
It wasn’t a ringing endorsement about Becton’s condition. Saleh is usually transparent about how good of shape a player is in.
Saleh has praised Zach Wilson’s physical maturation by labeling Wilson “beefy.” He profusely praised Denzel Mims throughout the spring by proclaiming “he’s in the best shape of his career.”
With Becton, Saleh caught the question and punted it into the end zone.
So it’s clear, Becton isn’t in the ideal shape because if he was Saleh would have said it.
On the flip side, Becton has six weeks to round himself into the proper shape that’s required by the organization as he gets ready to be entrenched in a battle with Fant for the starting left tackle spot.
It doesn’t faze Becton that he has to earn his spot back after the year Fant had.
“It’s football. We always gone compete,” Becton said. “I’m just going to have to go out there and get my job back.”
Becton believes he’ll be the starting left tackle when Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens arrives. But he’s prepared to slide to the right side of the offensive line and play the right tackle spot if the Jets ask him to.
“I’m open to playing wherever, as long as I’m on that field,” Becton said.
Whenever Becton returns to the field, his plans to devour the words that have been hurled at him. When the Jets open training camp in late July, it’ll be the beginning of his revenge tour.
DAY TWO OF MINICAMP OBSERVATIONS
- Zach Wilson produced a solid day. During the early team period, Wilson was money. He went 6-for-9 with a deep touchdown throw to Jeff Smith. He also opened the day with a deep out breaking ball to Elijah Moore, who beat Ahmad Gardner, towards the sideline. Wilson also threw a beautiful deep ball to Smith again during 7-on-7s for another TD.
- The bad started during the goal line 7-on-7s. Wilson went 2-for-8 with a pick-six to Gardner. Then during a two-minute 11-on-11 drive, the Jets defense went man coverage and Wilson struggled. He went 1-for-3 and the drive stalled out.
- Denzel Mims made another acrobatic catch on a throw from Joe Flacco.
- Elijah Moore’s route running looks faster and quicker.