BOSTON (CBS) — It sounds like Stephon Gilmore will be back to roaming the field for the New England secondary on Sunday, after the star corner missed the previous three games with a knee injury.
Gilmore spoke with reporters on Friday, a clear sign that he’s set to return to the New England lineup when the Patriots visit the Houston Texans on Sunday. He also made it clear that his recent absence was due to an injury — and not a contract holdout by the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
“I wasn’t able to play. I wasn’t physically able to play these last couple of weeks,” Gilmore said Friday. “Things happen and you have to adjust to it, and there is nothing that would keep me off the field from playing with my teammates.
“I’m just happy that I’m progressing and getting better; I’m looking forward to this week,” he added.
There was a lot of Gilmore trade speculation around the NFL trade deadline a few weeks ago, especially when the cornerback’s house hit the market around that time. He had an easy explanation for that on Friday.
“I just wanted to move to the city. I like the city,” he said. “It’s a place I want to go, so that’s why I made that decision.”
Gilmore certainly did not sound like a player who wants out of New England on Friday.
“I love being here,” he said. “I love the coaches and the players; I love being here.”
As for Sunday, Gilmore said that he feels “real good” after a week of practice. So barring any last-minute setbacks, we should see him out there Sunday afternoon trying to pluck some Deshaun Watson passes out of the air for New England.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said earlier Friday that Gilmore has been active behind the scenes in Foxboro while recovering from his injury. Though he hasn’t been playing, the veteran corner is still helping his teammates prepare each week.
“Steph was great on that. Obviously he has a lot of experience and has played against the players we’ve played against the last few weeks: 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,” explained Belichick. “So, Steph works hard. He works hard to prepare himself, but he’s a good teammate and he works hard to help those, in this case, that were playing in his place. 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.”
Gilmore was glad to help in any way he could, but would have rather been playing on Sundays.
“It was tough, not playing. Seeing your guys out there, the guys you complete with every day and not being able to help,” he said. “But I could help in another way, as far as teaching the guys what I saw on the field, teaching certain techniques and how you should pay certain guys. I try to help them as much as I can.”
Now he’s looking to get back on the field as the 4-5 Patriots go for their third straight win. Though the Texans have an unimpressive 2-7 record, Gilmore knows they have an offense that can put up points in a hurry.
“Houston has a lot of great receivers, a lot of speed on the field. Watson can throw any ball and get out of trouble is he has to,” he said. “We have to play great as a defense. Any guy who can drop back and throw or run, we are going to have to play a complete game as a whole.”
Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-Texans game on WBZ-TV! Pregame coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 1 p.m., and after the game stick around for postgame reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!