Mekhi Becton is benefiting from battles with Carl Lawson
For his sophomore year, Gang Green’s management made finding him some help a top priority.
But their biggest offensive acquisition could well become … defensive end Carl Lawson?
Formerly based in Cincinnati, Lawson has become one of the NFL’s more undersung pressure artists. Becton, the Jets’ blindside tackle, has been tasked with blocking Lawson during the Jets’ training camp sessions. Their get-togethers were one of new head coach Robert Saleh‘s most anticipated parts of his first training camp at the New York helm.
“It’s like the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of size,” Saleh said, per Robby Sabo. “Carl is not going to see a man that big, and Mekhi is not going to see a man that small and sawed-off, and as strong as he is. For those guys to get that work, they’re making each other strain in different ways that they’ll see all season.”
Working with Lawson has taken its toll on Becton, but the second-year blocker believes it’s paying major dividends in a small sample size.
The two linemen played minimally in the Jets’ 12-7 preseason win over the New York Giants on Saturday night. But Becton is already feeling the effects of Lawson therapy.
“It was really slowed down for me, not going against Carl every day,” Becton said after the Jets’ Monday practice. “I would say he made it a whole lot easier for me going out there.”
Over their first two offensive possessions, the Jets tallied 100 yards and reached Giants territory on both occasions. Wilson was not sacked while completing 6-of-9 passes for 63 yards. Carter and Ty Johnson united for 47 yards on a dozen carries.
Becton was a driving force behind the first-team offense’s strong effort. He was credited with allowing zero pressures in pass protection. In the run game, he helped the Jets average 5.2 yards per carry on rush attempts to his side.
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Following the conclusion of the Jets’ first offensive series, which ended on a Chris Naggar field goal, Becton knew exactly who to thank.
“After the first drive, I went up to (Lawson) and was like, ‘I appreciate you, bro, you made me a whole lot better, like they have nothing on you, so I appreciate you a whole lot,” Becton said.
“He’s definitely a different type of guy to block because he’s going 100 percent every time. He’s not short, but he’s lower to the ground and he’s got power and speed. So he’s definitely a different, different type of guy.”
As the Jets prepare to embark on a new offensive journey, complete with a new franchise thrower, Becton says that the daily trench battles in training camp will help the Jets improve as a whole.
Though Lawson was barely seen on Saturday, the Jets’ defense sacked Giants quarterbacks five times, the last one becoming a safety earned by sixth-round draft pick and defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall.
“We all felt the difference of our D-line and going against another D-line. So we all (on the offensive line) felt that our D-line is getting us better and we’re getting them better,” Becton said. “Our D-line, they’re all dogs … I’m excited by the things they’re going to do … our D-line is top tier, they’re really good. So it’s like they’re making us better, and we’re getting them better.”
— Robby Sabo (@RobbySabo) August 16, 2021
— Robby Sabo (@RobbySabo) August 16, 2021
Becton and the blockers will face a bigger challenge in practice this week, as the Jets welcomed back 2019 first-rounder Quinnen Williams back to practice on Monday.
Williams, fresh off a team-best seven sacks last season, had not seen the field since early May when he sustained a foot injury during an on-field workout at 1 Jets Drive.
Reinforcements are set to arrive for the offensive line as well, as Alijah Vera-Tucker is projected to return for Week 2 of summer action. The incoming first-round pick (14th overall) missed Saturday’s game entirely due to a pectoral issue.
The Jets return to preseason action on Saturday afternoon as they take on the Green Packers at Lambeau Field (4:25 p.m. ET, WLNY/NFL Network). Saturday’s game will be preceded by a pair of joint practices with the Packers in Wisconsin.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags
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