FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ culture isn’t for everyone, as the Cassius Marshes and Lane Johnsons of the world have made clear in recent weeks.
Many players, however, embrace — or at least appreciate — Bill Belichick’s demanding “no days off” approach, which has helped guide the Patriots to eight Super Bowl appearances and five championships since 2001.
Among those Belichick backers is cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who endured a miserable start to his Patriots tenure before eventually emerging as one of New England’s top defensive players.
“I guess (the Patriots’ culture) is meant for certain people,” Gilmore said Thursday after the Patriots’ fifth practice of organized team activities. “I like it here, so I don’t know. It’s an opinion. I just stick to doing my job and do whatever I can to help the team win. I like it here, though.”
He added: “It’s just no shortcuts. You have to work for everything like that. If you don’t want to take shortcuts, you’ll like it here.”
Nearly every Patriots player that spoke to reporters after Thursday’s practice was asked about Marsh, the former Patriots defensive end who lambasted Belichick and The Patriot Way last week in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.
Marsh, now with the 49ers, said his experience with the Patriots was devoid of fun, echoing repeated comments Johnson, who’s spent his entire career with the Philadelphia Eagles, has made in the months since Super Bowl LII.
Patriots safety Devin McCourty said he understood Marsh’s stance, considering both Marsh and the Patriots struggled during the edge rusher’s brief stint in Foxboro.
Gilmore was a target of criticism during this span, as well, with many questioning his five-year, $65 million contract after he committed multiple coverage errors early in the season and then missed three games with a concussion. The high-priced corner righted the ship upon his return, however, and was a lockdown cover man in the playoffs.
Now the Patriots’ unquestioned top corner following the offseason departure of Malcolm Butler, Gilmore said he’s feeling more comfortable ahead of his second season in New England.
“It feels better,” he said. “The same coaches pretty much and most of the same teammates for me with the guys. Second year living here, so everything is pretty much easier. But you’ve still got to go out there and work on your game to get better. It starts over every year, so you’ve got to prove yourself every year.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images