Stephon Gilmore poised to make big jump in year two

Stephon Gilmore only worried about improving

CB Stephon Gilmore struggled early last season. The fans did not love him because many felt Malcolm Butler (a fan favorite for his game-winning interception against the Seattle Seahawks three years ago) should have received a long-term contract and not Gilmore. The former Bills cornerback did not exactly engender the excitement that Darrelle Revis did when he signed with the Pats. Gilmore received a five-year $65 million contract with $40 million guaranteed and an $18 million signing bonus. When the Pats signed Gilmore, many thought Bill Belichick really gave a long-term contract to a cornerback from Buffalo. The Pats have conquered Buffalo in the Belichick era (29-5). Buffalo has put up resistance in some games, but the result was rarely in doubt. The Pats would win, Belichick would discuss how difficult it was to defeat the Bills and the Pats would play in January while Buffalo players would be on the golf course (the Bills have had one playoff appearance since 1999 - loss to Jacksonville last season).

All of a sudden Gilmore was lifted from football purgatory to football heaven in the 2017 offseason when he signed his huge contract.

Gilmore struggled early in the season (missing three games) and many Pats fans felt the team had made the wrong decision. The view of Gilmore changed, however, when he made the game winning play to knock down a Blake Bortles pass that sent the Pats to the Super Bowl. Gilmore also was the Pats best defensive player in the Super Bowl on a defense that was non-existent and let the Philadelphia Eagles do whatever they want. Gilmore, however, does not like when his individual performance is singled out.

"I don't look at it like that," Gilmore said referring to the Super Bowl loss. "We win as a team - we lose as a team. "

Gilmore said he enjoyed his offseason - having fun at a friend's birthday party in Miami. Players are not fans and Gilmore did not spend a lot of time being upset about the Super Bowl loss - particularly the play of the defense.

Gilmore said he considers Malcolm Butler to be a good friend and congratulated him after Butler received a long-term contract from the Tennessee Titans in the offseason. Gilmore, incredibly soft spoken, has a mentality that he does not get too excited when he makes a play and too upset when he misses the play.

"Nobody is perfect - especially at cornerback. You need to have a short-term memory and get on to the next play if you are a corner," said Gilmore who had two interceptions a year ago and nine passes defensed.

Gilmore has loved learning defense from coach Bill Belichick.

"I learned more here last year in my first year in New England then I learned in the previous five years in Buffalo, " said Gilmore who particularly likes the way Bill Belichick teaches technique. "There was just a lot of stuff he taught me that I never learned in Buffalo."

Now, a leader on the Pats defense Gilmore appears poised to make a big jump from year one to year two.

Practice Notes: WR Jordan Matthews left practice early Sunday with a hamstring injury. DE Trey Flowers returned to practice the day before after being absent Saturday. He had a bandage on his head likely covering up the stitches that resulted from a collision on Saturday. DE Derek Rivers said OL Trent Brown who is 6'8 380 pounds is probably the biggest player he has played against. Brown, who played right tackle for the majority of his career, is attempting to make the switch to left tackle -- a switch that is difficult. WR Julian Edelman is in top shape and continues to show that he can be a force on special teams if needed. It is a shame for the Pats that he will miss the first four games. The wide receiver position is wide open. After Edelman and Chris Hogan - it is anybody's guess who is guaranteed to make the roster. The team must make up for the losses of Danny Amendola who went to Miami and Brandon Cooks who went to the Rams. The goal line defense is improving with several goal line stands in yesterday's practice. The Pats have a practice tonight inside Gillette stadium for season ticket holders.