GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Jets had a message for left tackle Mekhi Becton on Thursday: Time to pick it up.
Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur gave a candid assessment of the second-year tackle that was far from glowing.
“Mekhi’s going through some things right now. He’s not playing at his best, and he knows that,” LaFleur said following the Jets’ second day of joint practices with the Packers.
Becton has struggled in training camp to block defensive end Carl Lawson, and then this week Packers outside linebacker Preston Smith. He has given up a lot of pressures, something the Jets can’t afford with rookie Zach Wilson at quarterback.
LaFleur made it sound like Becton is catching up after a rookie season that featured no offseason or preseason, a truncated training camp and a spring that Becton sat out due to a foot injury.
“He’s still working through some things,” LaFleur said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in Mekhi because: one, I know how talented he is, and, two, he’s a good dude. He’s going to work through all this stuff.”
Lafleur said he has seen slight improvements every day from Becton. He definitely performed better in Thursday’s practice with the Packers than Wednesday’s, when he gave up at least two sacks and several more pressures. On Thursday, it looked like he only allowed one sack.
Becton is still getting used to life as a professional.
“It’s showing up to work every day as an absolute professional, which he does mentality-wise,” LaFleur said. “It’s just, again, his first true training camp against elite competition. I think it’s only making him better even if the results aren’t showing. I know he knows how much work he’s getting in with the group he has to go against every single day.”
Becton has not been the only issue with the pass protection, which struggled again Thursday. LaFleur said it is not just on the offensive line.
“It’s been kind of two weeks now where we haven’t had the greatest pass protection,” LaFleur said. “The thing in offensive football and passing the ball it’s no doubt up front, all five of those guys, but it’s the quarterback getting off on time, it’s the running backs stepping up in protection, freezing the linebackers and blitzers, it’s receivers getting off the ball and creating more separation. It’s always going to fall on offensive line and quarterback, but this is a group effort.”
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