BOSTON (CBS) — A soft-spoken, quietly confident Stephon Gilmore took the podium in Foxboro to meet reporters for the first time since signing with the Patriots on the first day of unrestricted free agency. The cornerback became the newest piece to what could very well be the best secondary in the National Football League.
Between Malcolm Butler, Devin McCourty, and others, Gilmore is certainly excited to be a part of this secondary. But with great talent comes great pressure, and there could be plenty of it on the Patriots’ defensive backs to perform at an elite level in 2017.
Gilmore sounds unafraid of the group’s ability to live up to it.
“There’s only pressure if you make it,” said Gilmore. “You just go out and work hard and do your job and rely on each other, trust each other. You do that, I think we’ll be good.”
Most of the Patriots secondary has been playing together for several years now. Butler, McCourty, Duron Harmon, and Patrick Chung have all been in the fold since 2014 or earlier. Gilmore said he was impressed with how close-knit the guys are and how much it will help him be a better player for the team.
Gilmore repeatedly remarked on the strong relationships he’s already built with his teammates in the Patriots secondary, less than a month into Patriots offseason workouts.
“It’s always fun being out there talking to the guys in workouts,” said Gilmore. “Not just talking football, but just talking about each other and building that relationship with each other.”
When asked about the change of scenery from Buffalo to New England, Gilmore described his first days in the Patriots locker room and the support he’s received from his new teammates.
“The thing I noticed is the guys welcomed me. Great teammates,” said Gilmore. “The secondary welcomed me in, and they said if I had any questions to ask them. I’m going to hit the ground running and do whatever I can to help the team.”
When asked specifically about Butler, whom along with Gilmore will form arguably the best starting cornerback tandem in the NFL, Gilmore said he was as impressed as anyone with Butler’s relentless competitiveness on the field.
“[Butler] just competes, no matter what,” said Gilmore. “He competes to the end of the play. All the guys do in the secondary. That’s one thing that stuck out to me.”
The talent, experience, and teamwork in the Patriots secondary adds up to a group that should easily be one of, if not the best unit in the league. But when asked about their potential as a positional group, Gilmore stuck with the team concept.
“We just want to be the best team we can be,” said Gilmore. “Whatever the goal is, whatever we’ve got to do to win games, that’s what we’ve got to do.”