FOXBORO — In the postgame locker room following Sunday’s loss to the Ravens, Stephon Gilmore sported a heavy wrap around his left pinky finger as he packed up, and later addressed a few media members.
It was easy to see the Patriots’ star cornerback was in a bit of pain as he carefully moved items from his locker into his travel bag.
Asked which hurt worse, the loss or the pinky, Gilmore shrugged and said both weren’t making him feel very good.
The All-Pro corner, named the AFC’s Player of the Month for October, wouldn’t elaborate any further on the injury or confirm if the finger was broken.
Judging by the size of the wrap, and how Gilmore felt, the bye week couldn’t be coming at a better time. The time off should help heal the wounded digit on Gilmore’s hand, not to mention whatever ails the Patriots defense.
Already, that seems to be the case. Based on Gilmore taking part in practice Wednesday and seeing him in the locker room with a lesser bandage around the knuckle of that pinky, suggests he’s on the mend. Gilmore once again wasn’t offering up any information, except to say the added time would benefit him with respect to his injured pinky. He was also upbeat about the defense going forward.
Considering the upcoming schedule, that’s good news for Bill Belichick.
Whether the Patriots are trying to shut down running games or passing attacks, Gilmore remains a pivotal part of that quest.
Looking at the four teams in the gauntlet of games ahead, the Patriots can ill-afford to have their shutdown corner operating with a bad hand. Everything starts with him locking down the opposing team’s top gun.
Gilmore loves to jam guys and be physical at the line. He’ll need to do that to be effective against the receivers expected on his dance card.
When the Patriots head to Philadelphia after the bye, Gilmore will keep company with Alshon Jeffrey. The following week, he’ll lock horns with Amari Cooper of the Cowboys. In Week 13, it’ll be DeAndre Hopkins of the Texans. Then it could be any one of the Chiefs’ top guns – be it Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, who he wound up marking in the AFC Championship Game, or Sammy Watkins.
Against the Ravens, Gilmore spent most of the game with speedy Ravens wideout Marquise Brown, who finished with three catches on four targets for 48 yards, with one of those receptions coming on a jet-sweep shovel pass.
Gilmore said the team has looked at all aspects of their 37-20 loss to the Ravens. With respect to the defense, some areas were exploited, namely the run defense.
Gilmore said he wasn’t worried. The problems are correctable going forward.
“The way I look at it, if we play how we need to play, focusing on ourselves, focusing on our technique, and our preparation of Philly coming up, and whoever we play next, I like our chances,” he said. “The last game happened because we let it happen. When we don’t focus, and we don’t concentrate, it hurts the team.”
Gilmore wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and Chiefs come up with similar game plans as the one employed by the Ravens. None of those teams have a quarterback with the running ability of Lamar Jackson, but they do have mobile quarterbacks with strong running games.
“You have to learn from what you didn’t do well. Because other teams are going to try to do the same thing,” said Gilmore. “It’s a copycat league. So, we learn from it, and we correct it. We don’t hang our head low. We still trust everyone on this team, and go from there.”
Gilmore was confident the defense would get back on track, as long as everyone put in the work and continued to trust the process. While he’s not a vocal leader, he leads by example. So he was out there on the practice field, bum finger and all, showing the way.
“That’s what I want to do, lead by example, lead on the practice field. Lead in the meeting rooms, and try to play well on Sunday,” he said. “That’s what I’m going to do. Next game up. If we go out and handle our business, they’ll be another story next week.”
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