FOXBORO, Mass. — Mike Pellegrino has had a de facto assistant coach with him in the New England Patriots’ cornerbacks room this summer.
You might have heard of him. His name is Stephon Gilmore.
Though Gilmore has yet to take the field in Patriots training camp, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year has been a fixture inside Gillette Stadium since camp began, helping the younger members of his position group while he rehabs the quad injury that ended his 2020 season.
“(I) love Steph, great guy,” Pellegrino, the Patriots’ cornerbacks coach, said before Wednesday’s practice. “Right now, he’s ‘Coach Steph.’ He’s working the other part of his game. Working off the field. Trying to get better. He’s rehabbing. He’s getting there. Taking it one day at a time, but in the meantime, he always helps the younger guys. He’s doing his part. He’s being a good teammate. He’s been great in the room.”
Pellegrino said Gilmore, who speaks quietly and is judicious with his words, “leads in his own way.”
“Which is great,” he added. “Don’t try and make anybody who they’re not. (When) he talks, guys listen, which is great. (I’m) not going to ask him to do anything more than what he does.”
Gilmore reported to training camp on time after skipping voluntary spring workouts and mandatory minicamp as part of a contract dispute. The four-time Pro Bowler is set to make just $7 million in base salary this season, well below market for a player of his caliber.
Gilmore also is recovering from offseason surgery and currently is on the physically unable to perform list. Veteran newcomer Jalen Mills has seen the largest uptick in training camp reps in his absence.
“I’m always excited to get guys back out on the field,” Pellegrino said. “But right now we’re playing with who we got, and we’ll go against whoever we need to.”
The Patriots held their seventh camp practice Wednesday. They’re scheduled to practice Thursday and Friday, as well, before an off-day Saturday.