Mekhi Becton preparing for his first game in front of NY Jets fans

Monday will be an emotional night for Mekhi Becton
NY Jets, Mekhi Becton
NY Jets, Mekhi Becton / Al Pereira/GettyImages

It's been a long road to recovery for NY Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton. The former first-round pick hasn't played in a regular-season football game since Week 1 of the 2021 season.

Monday night will mark over 725 days since Becton last played a meaningful NFL game. It will also mark the first time in his NFL career that he's played a regular-season home game in front of fans.

Becton has never gotten the chance to hear the roaring J-E-T-S chant from his home crowd. He's never been able to witness the game-day atmosphere of a packed MetLife Stadium.

That's because Becton's rookie season was marred by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There were no fans in the stands. The only game he played in 2021 was a road loss to the Carolina Panthers. He did not play at all in 2022.

Monday night will not only be the next step in Becton's road to redemption, but it will also mark a historic first for the young offensive lineman. And he couldn't be more excited about the opportunity.

NY Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton is looking to prove his doubters wrong on Monday

It's been a long, arduous journey for Becton to get to this point. He was hailed as a franchise cornerstone following a promising rookie season, only to be tossed aside by the masses after consecutive seasons lost to injury.

The Jets declined Becton's fifth-year option this offseason. He entered the summer firmly as a backup and found himself the subject of trade rumors. He's been called everything from a draft bust to lazy and out of shape. Monday is when Becton can prove everyone wrong.

The former Louisville star lost over 50 pounds this offseason — an offseason in which he was already rehabbing consecutive major knee injuries. It's hard to fully understand how difficult that rehab process must have been for Becton, both mentally and physically.

But his hard work has paid off. Becton is in the best shape of his career, and he forced his way into the starting lineup despite the Jets clearly having other plans. He enters Week 1 as the starting right tackle with every opportunity to earn himself some serious money and salvage his career this season.

Becton's redemption arc is one of the Jets' feel-good stories of the summer. The Jets need a healthy Becton for their offensive line, the offense, and the team as a whole to reach its ceiling in 2023.

Mekhi Becton's journey is far from over, but Monday will mark the next important step in the reclamation of his career. The big man is back, and he's hoping to be better than ever.