MRI reveals more serious knee injury to New York Jets’ Mekhi Becton than initially thought, source says

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — An MRI scan of Mekhi Becton’s right knee revealed a more serious injury than originally expected, a source told ESPN Monday night, fueling fears the New York Jets right start could be sidelined indefinitely.

The 2020 first-round draft pick injured the same knee that required season-ending surgery in September, but this was described as a “different” injury, the source said. Becton will conduct additional tests on Tuesday to provide a diagnosis, but the Jets’ concerns were heightened after receiving the MRI results. A source said the assumption is Becton, 23, will miss significant time.

A source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that Becton sustained an injury to his patella (kneecap).

Becton appeared to have injured his knee during an early O-line drill Monday morning. He hobbled around but kept in practice. A few minutes later, in the second game of an 11-on-11 period, Becton fell backwards after being rocked by defensive end John Franklin-Myers. Becton’s right foot seemed to catch on the grass, possibly causing his knee to bend awkwardly.

Becton removed his shoulder pads and immediately hobbled to the dressing room with members of the training staff.

He began wearing a knee brace on Friday, an indication he may have started to feel unwell. A source said it was nothing more than a typical soreness at training camp.

After Monday’s training session, coach Robert Saleh was cautiously optimistic and said preliminary tests had revealed no serious injuries. Based on what the doctors said, he said the knee was “stable” and the MRI was precautionary.

“Right now it doesn’t seem like a big deal but — knock on wood — hopefully it stays that way,” Saleh said.

For Becton, who has a history of injuries and condition issues, any time lost could potentially mean something. Late Monday, the Jets signed well-travelled veteran Caleb Benenoch (23 career starts) to a one-year deal. They remain interested in free agent tackle Duane Brown, a five-time Pro Bowl pick who attended over the weekend.

Becton injured his right knee in the 2021 season opener and never played again, although the team initially described it as a four to six week return from surgery.

With Becton’s recent injury – and with backup swing tackle Conor McDermott sidelined for a week or two with a sprained ankle – there’s a greater sense of urgency to add an experienced tackle. George Fant, who starts with the left tackle, is also returning from knee surgery, although he is healthy and training.

Saleh downplayed the team’s interest in Brown, saying the Jets have “so much great talent” in tackles and that Brown would be a luxury.

“It doesn’t panic in my head at all,” Saleh said. “A guy like Duane is a bonus.”

But that was before the MRI result.

Becton has started just 14 of 33 games over two seasons, including six games he didn’t finish due to various injuries. His weight became a major storyline last season when he reached around 400 pounds while recovering from surgery.

He was overweight at June minicamp, which frustrated the organization, but he trained at the facility prior to camp and reported in acceptable shape. Saleh praised Becton for surviving the first nine training sessions as he worked his way back into football shape.

Now it could be a challenge if he has to miss the time.

“We’ll see if he takes time off,” Saleh said. “Obviously you’re concerned for everyone. … They just don’t want to get into a conditioning deficit. He’s a big man. He worked his ass off and did everything he was asked to do. Hopefully he checks out well like we think and he can continue at this track. I think he will be fine.

By nightfall that optimism was gone. MRI reveals more serious knee injury to New York Jets’ Mekhi Becton than initially thought, source says

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