Becton, Lawson helping each other improve in Jets' trenches

Sun Aug 1 11:18am ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer

New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson speaks to reporters at the team's NFL football training camp facility in Florham Park, N.J., Tuesday July 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Dennis Waszak Jr.)


New York Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton (77) looks on during practice at the team's NFL football training facility, Saturday, July. 31, 2021, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)


New York Jets left tackle Mekhi Becton speaks to reporters at the team's NFL football training camp facility in Florham Park, N.J., Tuesday July 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Dennis Waszak Jr.)


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) A back-and-forth battle in the trenches has been a must-see attraction for the New York Jets early in training camp.

Mekhi Becton, the mountain-like left tackle who stands at 6-foot-7 and weighs in the neighborhood of 363 pounds, looms on one side of the line of scrimmage.

Carl Lawson, a 6-2, 265-pound stocky defensive end with speed, prowls the other.

''It's like the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of size, right?'' coach Robert Saleh said. ''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.

''Because of it, I think they'll get better for it.''

Through the Jets' first three camp practices, Lawson appeared to get the better of Becton by working his way into the backfield for a few would-be sacks. That observation might be a bit flawed, though, considering the team hasn't worked in pads yet - so players can't be as physical as they normally would.

''He sweats and stuff, so he's real slippery,'' a smiling Becton said of Lawson. ''That's the toughest thing, and he's got a lot of speed and power. He does, like, this power spin that's really tough. He's a great rusher - a really great rusher.''

Becton did a nice job against Lawson on Saturday, more than holding his own against the Jets' biggest free-agent signing of the offseason.

''It's helping me a whole lot because I can get my losses out of the way right now,'' said Becton, New York's first-round pick last year. ''When it comes to game time, I'm going to be ready, for sure.

''Iron sharpens iron, so he's getting me better and I'm getting him better.''

It's difficult not to focus on rookie quarterback Zach Wilson whenever he takes a snap during team drills. But if you take a second or two to watch Becton and Lawson square off, it's a treat.

And surprisingly, there's never any trash talk between the two. Not when Lawson blows past Becton, and not when Becton stonewalls Lawson.

''After every play, I ask him, `What can I change there?''' Becton said. ''And he asks me, `What can I change there?' I just tell him things when I get him and he tells me things when he gets me.''

There's mutual respect between two of the most powerful - and important - players on the team.

Becton said he was good as a rookie while facing elite pass rushers such as Nick Bosa, Justin Houston, Frank Clark and Bradley Chubb, ''but I want to be great this year.'' He's tasked with protecting Wilson's blind side and made a habit last season of serving up highlight-reel pancake blocks.

Becton came into camp in noticeably better shape. And going up against Lawson - not a traditional hulking pass rusher - will help with his technique.

''Just trying to get your hands at the right position,'' Becton said. ''That's just part of the challenge in making sure you stay square on him.''

Lawson was signed by New York to a three-year, $45 million contract to give the Jets what they hope will be their first pure pass rusher since John Abraham almost 20 years ago. Lawson had 20 sacks in four seasons with Cincinnati, including 5 1/2 last season. It's a total he believes will increase by better finishing plays.

Last year alone, he thinks left too many sacks on the field. And he means a lot.

''Maybe 100,'' Lawson said while not cracking the least bit of a smile. ''Every rush is supposed to be a sack, to me. That's how I evaluate it. So, 100 sacks. That's my answer to you.''

Lawson is obsessed with being better, voraciously studying film to fine-tune his game.

''There are certain tackles that early on in my career, I probably didn't have as many tools in the toolbox so they probably had the advantage against me,'' he said. ''And as I've gone on through my career, each year and each day I'm trying to figure out how do I go against that, whatever my kryptonite would be.''

Saleh acknowledged that while the offensive line is usually at a disadvantage against the D-line early in camp, there's something different about Lawson.

''When it comes to Carl, he does that to everybody,'' Saleh said. ''I know we get caught up on sacks, but my God, all he does is run and hit the quarterback. It's special. When you look at him, you're not expecting it, but then he just dominates.

''I'm really excited for the pads to come on because then they'll be able to get some real good work in 1-on-1s.''

That will happen in practice Monday. And Becton has a not-so-bold prediction for how it'll turn out.

''It's going to be the same way it is now,'' the big left tackle said. ''He's going to win some and I'm going to win some.''

Top Headlines
The Paur Report

RTSports Weekly: Week 2

Player Notes
Carson Wentz Sep 25 9:43pm ET

Indianapolis Colts QB Carson Wentz (ankles) is planning on starting against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Wentz has posted pedestrian numbers in his first two games for the Colts, and while the Titans have been struggling on defense, taking a chance on a hobbled Wentz isn't recommended.

From TheHuddle

Carson Wentz Sep 25 9:30pm ET

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (ankles) is expected to be active against the Titans in Week 3. He missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday but was upgraded to limited on Friday. Through two games this season, he has gone 45-for-69 with 498 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. The Colts do have contingency plans in place if Wentz experiences a setback during the game. One would speculate that they could carry three quarterbacks (Wentz, Jacob Eason, and Brett Hundley) into the contest. Regardless, Wentz getting the start provides a significant boost to the fantasy values of all the Indianapolis playmakers.

From RotoBaller

Jacoby Brissett Sep 25 9:20pm ET

Miami Dolphins quarterback Jacoby Brissett should fill the starting job for at least three weeks after Tua Tagovailoa (ribs) was placed on injured reserve. After relieving the latter in Week 2, the former completed 24 of 40 passes for 169 yards, zero touchdowns, and an interception. He's worth rostering in superflex leagues and is a solid matchup-based play through at least Week 5 and perhaps beyond.

From RotoBaller

Evan Engram Sep 25 9:10pm ET

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (calf) is trending in the right direction for Week 3. The team is confident that he'll be able to suit up against the Falcons on Sunday. The 27-year-old missed the first two weeks of the season, meaning this weekend's contest will represent his 2021 debut. Fellow veteran Kyle Rudolph had filled the team's No. 1 tight end role during Engram's absence. The Mississippi product falls into the TE2 range against a poor Falcons defense. He's worth rostering in both redraft and dynasty but should not be started in single-tight end leagues.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Golladay Sep 25 9:10pm ET

New York Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hip) is expected to play during Sunday's game against the Falcons. The team is reportedly "optimistic" regarding his status. Through two games this season, he has caught seven of 14 targets for 102 yards. Although the start to his tenure in New York has been disappointing, Golladay could bounce back against a poor Falcons defense in Week 3. He's worth starting as a flex option in what should be a pass-heavy game.

From RotoBaller

Denzel Mims Sep 25 9:00pm ET

New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims is expected to be a healthy scratch against the Broncos on Sunday. The second-year player out of Baylor caught one pass for 40 yards in Week 1 but was inactive against the Patriots last week. The Jets reportedly still believe in Mims, though evidently he's not at the point where they feel comfortable starting him despite an injury to Jamison Crowder (groin). It will be interesting to see how New York incorporates him into its offense throughout the 2021 season. For now, though, he's limited to the bench. He's only worth rostering in deeper dynasty formats.

From RotoBaller

Andy Dalton Sep 25 8:50pm ET

Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton (knee) is not expected to be placed on injured reserve. In fact, the veteran signal-caller has a chance to return as soon as Week 4. This situation is truly perplexing as Dalton's injury seems like the perfect time to pass the torch to Justin Fields. Instead, the rookie will start on Sunday but return to the bench once Dalton is healthy again. Between Week 1 and part of Week 2, Dalton completed 36 of 49 attempts for 262 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Despite head coach Matt Nagy's refusal to make a permanent change, Fields is the quarterback to roster in this offense rather than Dalton.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Stills Sep 25 8:40pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills was added to the active roster and will suit up for the upcoming matchup against the Patriots. With Tre'Quan Smith (hamstring) and Michael Thomas (ankle) listed as occupants on the injured reserve list, Stills will add much-needed depth and stability to a team sorely lacking options outside of Alvin Kamara. While the 29-year-old isn't an everyday fantasy option, he does have some value in deeper formats. He also should be on the DFS radar as a potential sleeper option with upside for Week 3.

From RotoBaller

Davis Mills Sep 25 8:40pm ET

Houston Texans rookie quarterback Davis Mills drew praise from head coach David Culley for his performance against the Panthers on Thursday evening. Specifically, Culley spoke fondly of the Stanford product's ability during the two-minute drill. "When we went into our two-minute offense right before half, he did an excellent job of taking us down the field and making some nice throws and nice plays," he said. "I thought he did a nice job for us." Mills completed 19 of 28 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown during his first career start. He should only be rostered in superflex leagues. Even then, he's only worth starting in very favorable matchups.

From RotoBaller

Buddy Howell Sep 25 8:40pm ET

Los Angeles Rams running back Buddy Howell has been promoted to the active roster. Howell was a member of the team's practice squad after having spent his first three seasons with the Houston Texans. While he likely won't get much action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the transaction possibly paints a more definite picture of Darrell Henderson Jr.'s (ribs) status heading into Week 3. If Henderson is confirmed absent on Sunday, Sony Michel would likely handle most of the reps out of the backfield, with rookie Jake Funk coming in for relief.

From RotoBaller

Brett Hundley Sep 25 8:40pm ET

Indianapolis Colts practice squad quarterback Brett Hundley was elevated to the active roster ahead of Sunday's game against the Titans. When Carson Wentz (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday, Hundley took the majority of starting reps over Jacob Eason. As of now, the Colts' quarterback situation remains very much up in the air. Wentz is a game-time decision. If he does play, Hundley would likely be inactive. However, if the former Eagle is ruled out, it's unclear whether Hundley or Eason would get the nod.

From RotoBaller

Antonio Brown Sep 25 8:20pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (illness) will not play in Week 3. The veteran had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and didn't travel to Los Angeles with the team as a result. It's unfortunate news, primarily since Brown has been one of Tom Brady's favorite wideouts this season, currently ranked second on the team with 138 receiving yards. Without the 33-year-old in the equation, Scotty Miller may get more involved. However, the likely scenario would spell more targets for Rob Gronkowski, Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans in an anticipated shootout against Matthew Stafford and the Rams.

From RotoBaller

Ameer Abdullah Sep 25 8:10pm ET

Minnesota Vikings running back Ameer Abdullah will be on the active roster for the Week 3 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. The veteran could get some chances out of the backfield, mostly on passing downs, if Dalvin Cook (ankle) can't suit up, with Alexander Mattison expected to do most of the heavy lifting in the run game. While Abdullah doesn't have appeal in standard leagues, he could be worthy of a roster spot in deep PPR formats.

From RotoBaller

Kerryon Johnson Sep 25 7:50pm ET

San Francisco 49ers running back Kerryon Johnson has been promoted to the active roster. Johnson had been a member of the practice squad for the last few weeks. However, with the injuries to Elijah Mitchell (shoulder) and JaMycal Hasty (ankle), the veteran may provide relief for Trey Sermon (concussion), who is anticipated to handle most of the work against the Packers on Sunday night. Still, Johnson and Jacques Patrick could get a few touches in Week 3, classifying them as borderline adds in deep fantasy formats.

From RotoBaller

JaMycal Hasty Sep 25 7:40pm ET

San Francisco 49ers running back JaMycal Hasty (ankle) landed on injured reserve on Saturday evening. Hasty sustained a high-ankle sprain during the Niners Week 2 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles and will be on the shelf for at least the next three contests. With Elijah Mitchell (shoulder) also listed as doubtful for Sunday Night Football versus the Green Bay Packers, rookie Trey Sermon (concussion) may finally get his chance to shine. Kerryon Johnson was also promoted to the active roster from the practice squad in a corresponding move and could also get involved.

From RotoBaller

Rashard Robinson Sep 25 6:53pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers DB Rashard Robinson and TE Deon Yelder were elevated from the practice squad as COVID-19 replacements Saturday, Sept. 25.

From TheHuddle

Michael Thomas Sep 25 6:43pm ET

New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas (ankle) was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, Sept. 25. However, Thomas will remain on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform until at least the end of Week 6.

From TheHuddle

Zach Ertz Sep 25 6:43pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, Sept. 25.

From TheHuddle

Robert Nkemdiche Sep 25 6:43pm ET

Seattle Seahawks DT Robert Nkemdiche and WR Cody Thompson were elevated from the practice squad Saturday, Sept. 25.

From TheHuddle

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Sep 25 6:33pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and LB Patrick Onwuasor were elevated from the practice squad Saturday, Sept. 25.

From TheHuddle