Don’t expect to see cornerback Stephon Gilmore show up at any time during the Patriots three-day mandatory minicamp.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was vague in details but confirmed Tuesday that Gilmore is not expected to participate this week, reportedly due to a contract holdout.
“I don’t expect him to be here,” Belichick said. “We’ll just focus on the guys who are here.”
Gilmore is set to make just $7 million in salary this season. The 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year skipped the first minicamp practice Monday after sitting out the entire voluntary portion of New England’s offseason program.
Gilmore, who turns 31 in September is coming off a partially torn quad he suffered late last season.
Jonnu Smith may also no be on the field Tuesday after suffering an apparent hamstring injury on Monday.
Smith – who also did not participate in the voluntary program – did practice Monday but could not finish.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Belichick said on his video conference call. “Like a lot of guys, we’ll take a look at him before practice or an early part of practice and see how they’re doing. We probably have six to 10 guys that fall somewhere in that category. We’ll just take it day by day.”
Smith, 25, signed with the Patriots as a free agent this spring, a four-year, $50 million deal with $31.25 million guaranteed.
Below is the entire transcript from this morning’s press confreence.
Q: Obviously, Stephon Gilmore was not there yesterday, is this an excused absence?
BB: I don’t expect him to be here, and we’ll just focus on the guys that are here.
Q: J.C. Jackson had to take on an even bigger role when Gilmore got hurt last season, how do you think he faired during that time and he is still an ascending player on your mind?
BB: Every year is a new year for all of us, so it doesn’t really matter what did or didn’t happen last year. We’re all working on building a good foundation this year and trying to have our best performance in the 2021 season. I know that J.C. [Jackson], that’s his goal and that’s all of our goals, so we’ll see how it goes.
Q: Do you expect Jonnu Smith to practice today?
BB: Yeah, we’ll see how it goes. Like a lot of guys, we take a look at them before practice or in our early part of practice and see how they’re doing. So yeah, we probably have six to 10 guys that fall somewhere in that category and we’ll just take it day by day.
Q: Out of the players that were absent yesterday, do you expect any of them to return today?
BB: Yeah, again, everybody’s kind of in the same boat there. A couple of those guys I don’t think we’ll see, but I mean, look, all the players want to get out there and participate, so if they can, they will, if they can’t, then we’ll do what we can do with them and get them out there when we can. Some guys may take part in certain portions of practice but not in other portions, so it’s really on a case-by-case. Those are case-by-case decisions that are made by the medical department and I would say as we go through getting ready for practice, the warming up part of practice and some of the early periods in practice, to determine how it’s going to go later on. So, it’s very fluid.
Q: How much progression have you seen from Cam Newton following this offseason in comparison to last year?
BB: Cam [Newton]’s way ahead of where he was last year at this time. There’s no question about that. I mean, as you would expect, he has a good year of experience under his belt and he’s able to start the process at the beginning and not be in a catch-up mode like he was last year. I mean, he was really just starting at this point last season, but he’s well ahead of that just from the year of experience and from the succession of building blocks that he’s been able to stack up, like all the players have that have been here since the start of the OTA and the offseason program back in April, that they’ve been able to stack those days and those learning experiences together, ask questions on things that they need clarification on and build to the next level when they’re ready to put another brick on the pile. So, that’s good for all of us. It’s good for Cam. It’s good for all of the players who can go through that process.
Q: What have you observed from the quarterback group and the working dynamic between the four of them?
BB: They’re all hardworking. They all put in a lot of time and ask good questions, really try to stay on top of the material and Brian [Hoyer], of course, has the most experience and Jarrett [Stidham] and Cam both have experience in a little different ways. Jarrett’s been here a little bit longer, Cam’s obviously had more NFL experience and had plenty of experience from last year and Mac [Jones] has the least amount, but he’s learning quickly and working hard at it. So, we’ll see how it all goes but they’ve done a good job of trying to process the information that we’ve given them. Josh [McDaniels], obviously, does a great job with the quarterbacks and Bo [Hardegree]’s helping him out there as well. So, we’ll again, we’ll see where it all takes us.
Q: How do you envision Troy Brown’s role this year?
BB: Troy [Brown] is very good with all the skill players, catching the ball, running the ball, returning kicks, getting open in the passing game and so forth. So, like a lot of coaches on our staff, he’s versatile, he can do a lot of different things and help a lot of different players. So, I’m sure we’ll be able to use him in a variety of ways.
Q: Do you think this year’s rookie class is ahead of last year’s rookie class simply due to the time on the field and the coaching that they’ve been able to get at this part of the year, and if so, what areas do you think this rookie class will be ahead?
BB: It’s all relative. Our rookie class is in the same situation as the other 31 teams and last year, the circumstances were different, but everybody was on the same track on every team. So, I don’t know if there’s a big advantage from team to team and what was different one year from the next year, again, I don’t know if that’s really that relevant either because the other players, last year they weren’t able to do much, this year players have been able to do more. So again, it’s all relative. I think the rookies are about where you would think they would be at this point. They’re way ahead of where they were a month ago and still way behind where they will be and where they need to be by the time we start playing preseason and ultimately regular season games. So, we’ll see how quickly they catch up.
Q: Is this time of year even more important for last year’s rookie class because they didn’t get this opportunity last year?
BB: I’m sure all of those players are benefiting from this. Absolutely. Again, the opportunity to start from scratch in person, to hear the plays to go out and practice the techniques to then go out and practice the plays as a unit and then to correct those mistakes and to come back in and take on a new day of installation and go through that process again and practice the techniques and practice the plays. Yeah, that’s a great learning sequence for any player, but as you mentioned, the ones last year didn’t really get to learn it that way. They just had to get it all thrown at them in virtual meetings and then go to training camp and at a very accelerated rate, try to put all those things into place and this is a much better teaching progression for anyone, for the rookies and as you said, for the guys who didn’t get to do it that way last year. I’m sure there’s a lot of fine points and coaching points and techniques that maybe somewhere got lost in the conversations at times last year that we’re able to detail out better this spring. So yeah, I think it definitely helps them. It’s a really good point.
Q: There were two tryout players at practice yesterday, are either one of those guys signing?
BB: They’re still in the tryout status for right now.
Q: Some of the veterans talked about the absence last year of opportunities to build camaraderie, how important is this time of year for your players to develop that sense of cohesiveness off the field in hopes that it will carry over on the field?
BB: This is a good opportunity for those things to happen both formally and informally. We do some things as a team that help to create that team building environment that you referenced and also the players themselves can individually get together with other guys and do things that they have in common or share experiences and so forth and that’s part of it as well. So, neither one of those were really available last year or they’re more available this year, however you want to look at it. That’s an important part of team building. As we know, there are players who are on our team now that won’t be on our team when we reduce the roster to 53 and there’s another, I’d say team building aspect, that comes in training camp and as the roster gets finalized or reduced for the team building to occur with that group, which is a little bit different or some of it’s the same, but the numbers and the composition of the groups is a little bit different in September and during the regular season than what it is now, too. So, it’s really an ongoing process. A lot of those relationships can be started and developed at this time of year and then, further grown as we go through the entire season.
Q: Is it your hope when you adjourn these minicamp sessions that because of that team bonding, that some of these guys get together on their own and continue their work with one another?
BB: I’m sure some of that will take place but at the same time, I think this is the opportunity for everyone individually to handle the things that they need to handle on their personal lives and preparations to the season to make sure that when they come to training camp and they start the season, that they’re ready to go and some things that will be difficult to do because of our time commitments during the season, that maybe some of those can be done between now and the start of training camp. So, it’s a balance. Some guys have more commitments in some areas than others and geography plays a role in this as well. So, if it works out that way, great but I don’t think that’s, obviously, anything that’s mandatory to be successful. Again, it could be a nice residual if it happened that way, but I think the main thing is for everybody to kind of clear up the things that they need to clear up prior to the start training camp, so that they don’t get bogged down with them when it becomes very football intensive.
Q: What have you observed from Chase Winovich this offseason?
BB: Chase [Winovich] was here for parts of it and as always, Chase brings a high level of energy and a high work ethic, competitiveness to all the things that he does. He’s still a young player that’s developing and can continue to grow both in his understanding of our system and the techniques and some of his assignments that come with it. His versatility leads to some, let’s say probably a bigger, a little wider range of assignments than maybe some other players, including the kicking game but he does a good job of trying to manage all that and work on all the things that will help the team. He’s team oriented and he works hard to help the team in a lot of different ways between defense and the kicking game. The groupings that he plays on, he has a pretty fair amount of variety in his responsibility.