George Fant will begin the 2022 season at right tackle for the Jets, head coach Robert Saleh confirmed on Sunday.
Fant was named New York’s starting left tackle last month, a result of his stellar performance on the left side last season.
For the second year in a row, however, Fant's spot on the offensive line has been altered as a result of Mekhi Becton suffering a season-ending injury.
Becton is expected to miss all of this season with a right knee injury, reopening the right tackle job in green and white. Last year, when Becton went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 1, Fant moved from right tackle to the left side, protecting Zach Wilson’s blind side for the rest of the 2021 campaign.
Now, with Becton out of the picture, New York brought in a reinforcement in free agency, signing five-time Pro-Bowl tackle Duane Brown. As much as Fant earned a season at left tackle, and was promised a full year at that position, Saleh explained that Fant's versatility and athleticism—in this case—turned out to be a "curse."
"He is a team guy, tremendously talented, so to give him the opportunity to go play right tackle, obviously, he is a competitor," Saleh told reporters. "He just wants a home, but at the same time he’s the ultimate team guy. I know he is going to put in the work and he’s going to do everything he can to be the best right tackle he can possibly be.
"I think he’s going to be great out there."
Fant and Brown played together with the Seattle Seahawks in 2018 and 2019, familiarity that's poised to translate to New York's offensive line in 2022.
With Becton going down and Brown signing with less than a month to go until the regular season begins, those two tackles—along with the rest of this team's offensive line—will need to work quickly to prepare as a unit for Week 1 and beyond.
"We need to get those five playing together a lot faster," Saleh said. "We have not had the continuity with that group for a while and at all during OTA’s and training camp. We just want those five guys to play together and build some continuity."
Last year, Fant allowed just one sack at left tackle with the Jets, earning a 71.1 player grade from PFF. Saleh assured that while Fant had a tremendous year on the left side, he's equipped to make the transition back to right tackle, carrying that same production with him.
"We think he’ll be fine playing right tackle in our scheme," the head coach said. "He hasn’t had a chance to play right tackle in our scheme, he played left tackle last year. His right tackle production numbers came from two completely different schemes. We think he’s going to be fine. We think he’s a very gifted athlete, he’s very smart, he’s got the right mindset to him, so we think his production is not going to drop off at all."
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