The Jets’ Olympics Becton was preparing to delete the ‘Big Bust’ label

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FLORHAM PARK, NJ – New York Jets tackle Mekhi Becton, nicknamed “Big Ticket”, delivered a big message to his critics on Wednesday.

“I want them to eat their word,” he said at the end of a two-day minicamp.

Becton, who has struggled with injuries and a weight problem since his promising rookie year in 2020, sounded determined to change the narrative. In his first availability in the media since September last year, he appeared wearing a blue T-shirt that read: “Big Bust.”

Surrounding “Big Bust” was a list of perceived negatives: “Fat … Lazy … Out of shape … Bum … Sucking … Overweight … Prone to injury.” “Many words, I’ve been called all my life, so I took it on a shirt,” he said, adding that he has a chip on his shoulder.

Becton, who is listed at 6-foot-7, 363 pounds (his weight from the 2020 scouting combination), has a lot to prove in 2021 after missing 16 games last season due to knee surgery.

After skipping the volunteer part of the free season – he trained in Texas, where his girlfriend gave birth to the couple’s first child last month – Becton was kept out of practice at the mandatory minicamp. That condition of his knee was a key issue, as was his general conditioning.

Neither Becton nor coach Robert Saleh revealed his exact weight. Saleh, who was usually overflowing with players in good shape, was noticeably lukewarm at Becton. He was not critical, but he did not go out of his way to compliment him.

“He has 40 days to continue working and getting ready to play football,” Saleh said, referring to the start of training camp.

Becton, whose weight ballooned as high as 400 last season, did not sound worried, saying he is “satisfied” with his current weight. As for his surgically repaired knee, he said it “gets better.” He wore neither a hoop nor a sleeve as he worked with the performance staff during training.

Saleh said without hesitation that he expects Becton to train when training camp starts on July 27.

“Structurally, he’s fine,” Saleh said. “It’s just a matter of him getting back into the overall football movements that he’s evolving into.”

The Jets have been careful not to criticize Becton, though it is worth noting that Saleh recently publicly appealed to him to attend the volunteer training. Becton was overweight last training camp, but he was in the 360s at the time of his injury, his nutritionist told ESPN recently.

“His weight will fluctuate incredibly over the course of, like, three days,” Saleh said. “It’s fascinating.”

Becton, who was drafted as No. 11 in 2020, has only played eight complete games out of 33, giving rise to concerns about his durability. He suffered a knee injury that ended the season in the opening in 2021. Initially, the team called it a six- to eight-week injury, and did not rule him out for the season before week 17. The floating schedule gave rise to speculation that his injury was not significant, which angered people in the Becton camp.

Becton said he tried to return but “hit a wall. I could not get the strength I wanted.”

After the season, Saleh made headlines by proclaiming that Becton would have to win his starting job back from George Fant, who did an admirable job at left tackle. Since then, the Jets have been evasive about their tackling plans, suggesting Becton could go right tackle. Becton said he would be okay with a position change and that he does not mind competing.

“It’s football,” he said. “We’re always going to compete no matter what. I’m just going to have to go out there and get my job back.”

The Jets could have drafted a top tackle in the first round, but they decided to roll with Becton and Fant as their starting tackles. Like Becton, Fant, who had a knee procedure out of season, did not practice in minicamp. He is expected to training camp.

“Of course we are all aware of the talent he possesses – size, athletics, physicality, everything,” Saleh said of Becton. “And he’s smart … If he takes care of his business, as we know he can, he can become transcendent.”

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