The NY Jets will take part in their second preseason game of the summer when they take on the Carolina Panthers later today. One player in need of an encouraging performance is offensive tackle Mekhi Becton.
Becton suited up and played in the team's preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns last Thursday. It was the first live action Becton had seen since Week 1 of the 2021 season.
The Jets have understandably been cautious with Becton's return to the gridiron — evidenced by the fact that he played just seven snaps in that Browns game, despite head coach Robert Saleh expecting him to play 20-25 snaps.
In the meantime, Becton has made considerable progress and passed every test the Jets have given him. Still, time is of the essence for both Becton and the Jets. Today's game is crucial in the former Louisville star's road to redemption.
NY Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton can make a statement in today's game
Becton has worked exclusively with the second-team offense this summer, even with Duane Brown sidelined. Instead, the Jets have rotated between Billy Turner and Max Mitchell at left and right tackle while Becton has worked as the second-team left tackle.
The Jets don't want to give Becton any first-team reps — be it at left or right tackle — until he proves that he can handle a full workload. To this point, while he's made progress, it seems as though he's still a ways away.
He has the opportunity to make a statement this evening, though. If Becton comes out in today's game and plays, say, the entire first half, it will go a long way toward proving that he's comfortable handling a larger role.
While the Jets want to be patient with Becton, time is an important factor here. The likes of Turner and Mitchell have struggled immensely this summer, and it would be nice to have arguably the most talented offensive tackle on the roster in the mix.
And for Becton, it's not even a guarantee that he's on the Week 1 roster. The former first-round pick has been the subject of trade rumors this summer, and there's a good reason for that.
Becton is set to be a free agent this offseason after the Jets declined his fifth-year option. Duane Brown, Turner, Mitchell, and Carter Warren are all roster locks. Becton would give the Jets five offensive tackles, and he doesn't have the versatility that the other backups do.
Becton realistically has less than three weeks to prove that he's worth investing in. The Jets have less than three weeks to determine if they see a future in Becton on this team.
Patience may be a virtue, but time isn't an infinite resource. Today's preseason game is a crucial landmark for Becton in his quest to return to his pre-injury form. Both Becton and the Jets are hoping for an encouraging showing.