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Why stakes are so high in Mekhi Becton-Duane Brown Jets left tackle battle

The loser of a position battle between Duane Brown and Mekhi Becton will not necessarily become the starter at right tackle as a consolation prize.

Because the 16-year veteran Brown and the former prized draft pick Becton both adamantly see themselves as left tackles, the Jets either have to convince one to change sides of the offensive line or bench one and go with a different starting right tackle.

“I’m excited just to see the competition,” offensive line coach Keith Carter said Friday in his first comments since joining the coaching staff. “We’re really excited about both of them. At some point, we are going to have to make a decision about who that left tackle is. The good news is we don’t have to do that right now.”

Neither Brown (shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff) nor Becton (knee surgery to repair an avulsion fracture) participated in team drills during OTAs.

Jets tackle Mekhi Becton

It could be a disservice to all parties if both Brown and Becton practice at left tackle during training camp, a starter is named and then the offensive line’s chemistry is disrupted to plug in a new (possibly disgruntled) right tackle.

The Jets also have Max Mitchell, Billy Turner and rookie Carter Warren as right-tackle options.

“I think however that shakes out, at the end of the day, they’ll be OK with it,” said Carter, formerly a Titans coach. “If one of them at left and one of them at right is the best five [linemen], that’s what we’ll do. If not, then we’ll have to go in a different direction.”

Becton, who has played one game during the past two injury-plagued seasons, did not address the media during OTAs. He is lining up in a left-tackle stance when working off to the side with trainers.

“Everybody knows that Mekhi is super-talented and the last two years haven’t gone as planned,” Carter said. “For me, coming in, it’s kind of like a clean slate for both of us. Everything Mekhi has done so far has been really cool.”

After tipping the scales near 400 pounds, Becton dropped a significant amount of weight this offseason.

“He’s come in for extra meetings, he’s in shape,” Carter said. “The next step is to put it all together and actually practice. From what I’ve seen, he’s shown a really good maturity, he’s made some good decisions outside of football to get to where he is right now. It’s exciting to see where that leads.”

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Becton tried right tackle last training camp and blamed the position switch and demands placed on his right leg for his second knee injury.

The Jets responded to Becton’s injury by signing Brown to a two-year contract. The incumbent Brown is a four-time Pro Bowler, so the younger Becton is getting a little extra one-on-one time.

“Learning in a classroom is great and it’s needed,” Carter said, “but he’s not getting those team reps. Trying to bring him in to watch extra tape to put it all together.”