Battling for starting gig, Jets OT Mekhi Becton treating Hall of Fame Game like 'regular game'

Most first-round picks don't participate in the Hall of Fame Game, but New York Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton will be on the field plenty Thursday night as preseason action kicks off against the Cleveland Browns.

"I'm definitely treating this as if it's a regular game like for sure -- I don't even care if it's preseason or whenever," Becton said Tuesday in his first comments this offseason, via the team's official website. "I'm definitely treating this like it's a regular game."

Coach Robert Saleh said he expects Becton to play 20-25 snaps in Thursday's HOF Game.

While Aaron Rodgers and most big-name players won't suit up for the club's first of four preseason games, Becton needs the reps.

The former No. 11 overall pick in 2020 has played just 15 games in three seasons. Becton has appeared in a single contest in the past two campaigns due to injuries.

The 24-year-old tackle is noticeably slimmer entering camp, coming in at 350 pounds, his lowest weight since college. Becton is battling for a starting gig, with his preseason performances being a significant chance to prove he belongs with the first group.

"It's definitely my goal to be a starter for Week 1," he said. "I'm just going to keep grinding and keep stacking days like I've been doing. That's just my whole mindset. Just keep getting better and get one percent better every day."

Becton previously blamed the coaching staff for his 2022 knee injury, suggesting the move from left to right tackle was the reason he suffered the latest setback to his career. On Tuesday, he walked those comments back, noting he had the wrong surgery in 2021 that led to last year's injury. While playing RT puts more stress on his twice-surgically repaired knee, the slimmer Becton is ready to do whatever the Gang Green staff need.

"Wherever they want me at, I just want to be on the field," Becton said. "That took some maturing. That's the big thing for me. I just want to play."

Becton has been taking reps at LT during camp.

The addition of Rodgers and the reshuffling of the skill-position players in New York have taken some of the attention off the offensive line. The group must improve in 2023 to keep the four-time NFL MVP upright for 17 games. Becton finally staying healthy and becoming the player he was drafted highly to be would go a long way in Gang Green's O-line taking a step forward in 2023.

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