Mekhi Becton didn’t start in the New York Jets 27-0 preseason win against the Carolina Panthers on Saturday. But the massive tackle still earned praise from Jets coach Robert Saleh.

Becton entered the game for New York’s third offensive series in the first quarter. He went on to play 27 snaps, a major leap from the Hall of Fame Game last week against the Cleveland Browns when he started and played seven snaps.

“Really proud of him,” Saleh said. “He fought through. Obviously played a lot of reps, actually played a lot more than we were planning. He wanted to go more, which is promising. … He took a really, really big step today.”

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The 24-year-old offensive tackle has been brought along slowly in training camp after missing last season following knee surgery. In fact, Becton has played one game in the past two seasons, the Week 1 opener in 2021 against the Panthers when he sustained a season-ending knee injury.

Becton has lost a substantial amount of weight and is down to 350 pounds. But Saleh has said during camp that Becton needs to regain confidence in his right knee. He’s also said Becton must focus on getting through a game before he can worry about being a starter.

“I really don’t care what the film looks like, we’ll see it, we’ll correct it,” Saleh said about Becton’s performance. “But for him to just build that confidence with the knee … it feels like he took that right step today.”

Becton was beaten inside for a sack on quarterback Zach Wilson in his first series. But overall, did a solid job in pass protection and in the running game as the Jets rolled up 333 yards of total offense.

Veteran Billy Turner started at left tackle Saturday and Max Mitchell was with the first team offense at right tackle. Duane Brown, who’s expected to be the starting left tackle, did not play and remains on the PUP list after offseason shoulder surgery.