FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore has ratcheted up the physicality since the team strapped on pads for the first time last weekend, and that’s produced some entertaining battles with Patriots receivers.
The most contentious of those came after the whistle: a heated scrap that got both Gilmore and Julian Edelman kicked out of Tuesday’s practice. The ex-Buffalo Bill also has been physical in coverage against the likes of Edelman and Brandin Cooks, and he and Danny Amendola had to be separated after a running play during Saturday’s practice.
Gilmore’s approach when he hits the field — any field, practice or game — is simple: Everyone wearing a different-colored jersey is the enemy.
“There’s not really no friends on the field to me,” Gilmore told reporters after Saturday’s session. “Once I’m on the field, there’s no friends. But off the field, very respectful. (I) respect everybody on this team, talk to them. It’s nothing personal. It’s just when I’m on the field, I’m super competitive, and there’s no friends.”
Gilmore has impressed thus far in camp after signing a five-year, $65 million contract with the Patriots in March, as has fellow cornerback Malcolm Butler, whose coverage against Cooks of late has been particularly noteworthy. Those two are locks to enter the season as New England’s starting corners, and they’ve been far and away the best players at their position through nine practices.
The Patriots will line up opposite some fresh faces this coming week when the Jacksonville Jaguars come to town for a series of joint practices ahead of the teams’ preseason opener Thursday night. For Gilmore, Butler and the rest of New England’s secondary, that’ll mean a week of matchups against a Jaguars receiving corps led by Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.
“It’s exciting,” Gilmore said. “We’ll get to go against some new guys, some different types of receivers. (We’ll) get to test our technique and see how we play.”
Thumbnail photo via Zack Cox/NESN.com
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