By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s Aug. 23. The Patriots have one preseason game remaining. The real season begins in less than three weeks. And Stephon Gilmore is still not a participant in training camp.READ MORE: Tom Brady Is Selling A Special T-Shirt For His Return To Foxboro
The absence of the 30-year-old cornerback all spring and summer long has been related to his dissatisfaction with his current contract, and his corresponding desire for a better salary in 2021.
Yet if you listened to Bill Belichick on Monday morning, you’d get the impression that Gilmore’s absence is due solely to his recovery from quadriceps surgery.
“Yeah, well I know that Steph’s been working extremely hard. I see him in here all the time,” Belichick said over Zoom on Monday. “He’s doing other things while we’re practicing, so we don’t really see him on the practice field. But he’s been doing everything he can do, and the things he hasn’t been able to do, he hasn’t been able to. I’d say it’s day to day. We’ll just keep trying to put days together and stack them together, and when he’s ready to be out there then he’ll be out there. And if he’s not ready to be out there, then he’ll work on the things that he can work on to try to get ready to be out there. So we’ll just take it day to day.”
When pressed on a follow-up about the team’s uncertainty with Gilmore’s role for the 2021 Patriots, Belichick’s answer was much the same.
“Again, I know he’s doing what he can. I know we’re doing what we can. And when he’s ready, he’s ready. And if he’s not ready, then I don’t think him being out there is a smart decision for any of us. We’re not going to do that — nor should we do that,” Belichick said. “So we’ll take it as it comes. But I think everybody’s doing as much as they can and that’s really all they can do on that end as well as preparing and doing the things that we can do that aren’t on the field. There are still other preparation and other things we could do as far as communication, and scheme and studying film, and that kind of thing that that we’re doing as well.”READ MORE: Rob Gronkowski 'Likely' To Play Vs. Patriots, Despite Injury Scare On Sunday
Belichick then noted that Gilmore is one of several players who is part of the team without participating in practice, and that every team has players who remain out of physical practice but active elsewhere in the operation.
“So for those players and for the team, the best thing is for that player to focus on what he can do, improve in the areas that he can improve in, and try to get back out as soon as he can and address the areas that he needs to address,” Belichick said. “And I think that’s what’s being done.”
On Sunday, Patriots cornerbacks coach Mike Pellegrino discussed how involved Gilmore has been behind the scenes.
“I won’t talk on his injury, but I will say his participation in the building has been phenomenal,” Pellegrino said of Gilmore. “I joked [in the] last meeting about him being ‘Coach Steph.’ He’s been great working with the guys, being in the room, communicating, not being quiet. It’s very easy for guys when they’re injured to kind of be quiet and take a backseat. He hasn’t done that. Been great. I love having Steph in the room. So he’s been top notch all the way through this.”
While all of that information lends credence to the reports which said that Gilmore’s contract issues were not contentious, it still doesn’t do much to actually put Gilmore on the field when the Patriots need him. Gilmore underwent the surgery in December, and he was expected to be healthy enough to participate in the offseason program.MORE NEWS: The Patriots Need A Lot More Out Of Jonnu Smith -- And The Tight End Knows It
Yet it’s nearing the end of August, and Gilmore remains on the physically unable to perform list. Belichick and Pellegrino sharing information about the star cornerback’s involvement with the team certainly beats the alternative, but it’s nevertheless reaching a point where a resolution on Gilmore’s contract is sorely needed for the 2021 Patriots.