Jets Practice Notes: Is the O-Line changing for Week 3 battle vs. Patriots?

Jets practice updates
New York Jets tackle Mekhi Becton (77) listens to coaches during practice at the NFL football team’s training facility, Friday, July 21, 2023, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
AP Photos

FLORHAM PARK — Day Two of New York Jets practice brought much of the same as the organization continues to prepare for their Week 3 contest against the New England Patriots. 

There are no phantom injuries, no quick adjustments, or workouts that need to be reported. Nothing is completely out of the ordinary. And yet, with the second practice day concluding, there were plenty of key takeaways that could show exactly where the Jets are leaning toward as they prepare for a key matchup. 

Whether it’s trying to solve their offensive line or immediate changes to their personnel groupings, there was a lot to go through from Thursday’s availability. Let’s go through it now. 

O-Line Update – Is Change on the Horizon?

Duane Brown is ready to compete with Jets
Duane Brown speaks about the Jets 2023 season and his looming position battle at left tackleNew York Jets

Reporters are not allowed to watch a majority of practices on game weeks. We only get to see the beginning of the day when players are stretching and doing some team drills. From our vantage point though, an interesting theme popped up at Thursday’s practice. 

Mekhi Becton and Duane Brown are two players continuing to go through a rehab training regimen which usually keeps them out of most practices during the week. Except Becton appeared to be with the offensive line for most of the practice while Brown was solely on the rehab side. 

It could mean nothing. Brown could be back at practice Friday and he would be penciled in as the starting tackle against the Patriots. But the team needs to be together as much as possible and the fact that their starting left tackle would miss two of three practice days isn’t good against a Bill Belichick-led team. 

Could the Jets be moving Becton to left tackle this week as they try and get Brown 100% healthy from his shoulder injury? 

Jets head coach Robert Saleh did say Wednesday that no changes to the offensive line were being made just yet, but if Brown’s injury is worse than people realize, could that leave the Jets with no choice but to shift the group around? 

If a full change was made, the safe bet would be that Becton would be the left tackle, Alijah Vera-Tucker would move to the right side, and second-round rookie Joe Tippmann would move to right guard. There’s no guarantee that these moves will be made, and it’s safe to assume that the same group that started Dallas would start against New England, but the more Brown doesn’t practice with the team, the bigger the questions circulate over when changes can and will be made. 

Will McDonald Impresses

Jets excited about Will McDonald
New York Jets edge Will McDonald IV runs solo drills during practice at the NFL football team’s training facility, Friday, July 21, 2023, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

New York’s first-round rookie was a surprise healthy scratch against the Cowboys due to the numbers game not in his favor. As surprising as it was to see a first-round talent not see the field at all in just his second week, it appears Will McDonald IV is making sure that never happens again. 

Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich made it clear that McDonald has had an excellent week of practice and that the team is starting to see “major improvements” in his game. 

Ulbrich did confirm though that it would ultimately be Saleh’s job to determine if McDonald would be suiting up for this week’s contest against the Patriots. 

Breece Hall Clears the Air

Jets running back Breece Hall breaks up field during the first half against the Packers in Week 6.
Breece HallAP Photo/Morry Gash

Many fans and analysts had their eyebrows raised when Breece Hall was “unhappy” about the four carries he received in Sunday’s loss. Hall went public with his displeasure, but as the running back said, it was merely a twitter response and “Everybody’s making it way more than it should’ve been…that stuff doesn’t really matter at the end of the day.”

Hall wasn’t the only Jets’ offensive skill guy to not receive a lot of touches in Sunday’s loss. Slot receiver Mecole Hardman was targeted just once and has also voiced his displeasure with the lack of snaps he’s seen. Unlike Hall where Saleh made it clear the team was going to utilize him more, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett simply stated that if the team cannot get more plays on offense (the team is second worst in offensive plays per game), players like Hardman wouldn’t be able to get the touches they need. 

On either account, it doesn’t look like any complaint is considered serious at this time. Hall even went to bat for Zach Wilson at quarterback saying that he has the “upmost confidence” and “having a guy like Aaron, he brings that sense of calm…I feel Zach’s just getting better with time.”

The Jets are locked in and ready for Patriots week on Sunday, even if there’s still plenty to keep an eye on during practice Friday. 

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