After agreeing to terms with veteran tackle Duane Brown and with his signing imminent, the Jets have shifted George Fant back to RT. Fant was named the team’s starting left tackle at the beginning of camp, but Mekhi Becton’s potentially season-ending knee injury coupled with the addition of Brown brought about a switch across the line.
“For George, his curse is also his blessing in that he’s extremely versatile, very athletic,” head coach Robert Saleh said of Fant following Sunday’s non-padded practice. “He is a team guy and tremendously talented.”
Fant, who started the 2021 season at RT, had a career year in ’21 after Becton went down with a knee injury in the opener at Carolina. Fant (30) started 15 games, lining up in 887 snaps, and according to Pro Football Focus, he posted the third-best pressure rate (3.03%) among left tackles.
“Obviously, he’s a competitor, he just wants a home,” Saleh said. “But at the same time, he’s the ultimate team guy. I know he’s going to put in the work and do everything he can to be the best right tackle he can possibly be. But it was a very good, productive conversation. But again, sometimes a player’s greatest blessing is also a curse. But I think he’s going to be great out there.”
Fant, who played both tackle spots and even joined some personnel packages as a third tight end in Seattle, signed with the Jets in 2020 and started 14 games at RT. With a new zone blocking system employed by OC Mike LaFleur and offensive line coach/run game coordinator John Benton, Fant excelled on the left side and wanted to remain there. But Becton went down and Brown, a five-time Pro Bowler, has made 203 career starts — all at left tackle.
“You still want to put your best five forward,” Saleh said. “That is the No. 1 responsibility for all of us is to protect the quarterback and you can argue George’s left tackle production was better than when he played right tackle. But that was different scheme. We think he’ll be fine playing right tackle in our scheme; he hasn’t had a chance to play right tackle in our scheme.”
As Saleh pointed out Sunday, the Jets haven’t had continuity along the offensive line throughout the spring and summer. Becton, a new father, missed spring workouts; and Fant, who had an offseason knee procedure, has gradually increased his workload throughout camp. After the Jets started rookie Max Mitchell and Chuma Edoga at RT and LT, Friday in Philly, Fant went to RT when team reps commenced Sunday and Edoga was back at LT.
“We just want five guys to play together and build some continuity,” Saleh said.