After missing three games with a knee injury, it appears that cornerback Stephon Gilmore will make his return to action against the Texans this weekend. Since Gilmore last played in a rough loss to the 49ers, the Patriots have found a way to turn things around, going 2-1 without their best corner and still not allowing a 300-yard passer on the season.
Gilmore has been in and out of practice over the last couple of weeks, with head coach Bill Belichick praising him for helping prepare those who would be playing in the game, like J.C. Jackson who has picked off a pass in five-straight games to lead the league in interceptions.
"Yeah, Steph was great on that," said Belichick on Friday morning via Webex. "Obviously, he has a lot of experience and has played against the players that we've played against the last few week – Buffalo, the Jets and Baltimore. He's very good. He prepares like he's going to play and helps the other players that are going to play with things that he's familiar with and can give guidance and can teach from."
"It was tough not playing," said Gilmore on Friday afternoon. "Seeing your guys out there that you compete with every day, not being able to help, but I could help in another way as far as teaching the guys what I see when I'm on the field, teaching them certain techniques going against certain guys, how I used to play them. I tried to help as much as I can."
Though he hasn't played with the same dominance he had in the 2019 season, Gilmore still leads the Patriots in completion percentage when targeted (53.3) and is second in QB rating when targeted behind J.C. Jackson.
Despite a start to the season that saw him pick up three defensive pass interference penalties in the first three games and get beat for a long a touchdown by D.K. Metcalf, Gilmore was coming on before his injury and undoubtedly will provide a big boost for the Patriots as they enter the stretch run.
"Once you go out sometimes you take things for granted," said Gilmore. "I never took it for granted but it makes you really appreciate the grind each and every day. I appreciate playing on Sundays. I really appreciate being out there with your teammates."
"He's well respected and deservedly so because of his effort, his consistency and his performance and preparation and really knowing not only our game plan and what we want to do, but knowing our opponent and what their either individual or kind of team tendencies are, including the quarterback," said Belichick of Gilmore.
After getting through the trade deadline, Gilmore reaffirmed his appreciation to be in New England.
"The only thing I can do every day is come to work and prepare and try to give them my best each and every week," said Gilmore. "There's some stuff you can't control in life, you just gotta go out there and enjoy yourself. We got great coaches here, we got great players, we got young players here that are getting better and better. I'm just enjoying the moment. I love being here, I love the coaching. I'm happy that I'm a Patriot."
Webex Quotes of Note
Chase Winovich on Rob Ninkovich providing mentorship:
"We formed a relationship from the moment I was drafted. I'm pretty sure he followed me on Instagram and he had reached out to me. It was just very welcoming and [he was] excited to have me there. It was just a great experience. It's been awesome having somebody as an example. Rob is a good dude, great in the community, great personality and then obviously, he's great at football as well. I've been really lucky to have somebody like that who has been not only helpful but also very understanding and actually been in my shoes in that number 50."
Isaiah Ford on getting traded to the Patriots:
"It was my first time being traded, so you kind of see about it on TV and things like that. It was a surprise in a way but at the same time, the opportunity to come and play for such a traditional and historic organization is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So I was extremely excited about becoming a New England Patriot and I just wanted to get here and get to know my teammates and get to work."
Gunner Olszewski on returning home to Houston to play:
"No I didn't play any high school games [at NRG Stadium] but I played a little league football game at halftime of a Texans game so I played a few snaps on that field. Coming home it's cool. I had to circle it last year on the calendar, it's kind of rare we get to go to Houston to years in a row. I'm pretty stoked about that. I'm looking forward to it being back in Texas."