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Sunday, May 22, 2022

Gilmore considers Colts, defense a perfect fit to resume career

Indianapolis ( Associated Press) — Stephen Gilmore patiently searched for the right place to start his career.

He found it in Indianapolis.

After agreeing to a two-year deal late last week, the Colts announced Monday that they’ve signed the NFL’s 2019 Defensive Player of the Year and five-time Pro Bowl cornerback — just in time for the start of the offseason workout. .

“I think the Colts came and I talked to the coaches and it felt right,” Gilmore said during a video call. “It was one of those things where it felt right in my heart to be here, especially with the talent in the team. Watching them from afar last year, what they did and there they were, I just wanted to come in and help the team out of that hump. ,

It’s certainly possible – especially if Gilmore returns to his Pro Bowl form, though that hasn’t been the case since he endured a partially torn quad at the end of the 2020 season.

He admitted on Monday that the injury persisted last season when he was tackled from New England to Carolina and was limited to just eight games, three starts and 16 tackles. he still had two interceptions,

If Gilmore plays anywhere near his previous standard, it will be a huge upgrade for a defense that already has three-time All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard, three additional players with Pro Bowl credentials — defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, cornerback. Kenny Moore II and defensive end Yannick Ngakou, promising second year pass rushers Quitty Pay and Deyo Odebingbo, and linebacker Bobby Okereke, who finished 14th in the league with 132 tackles last season.

The Colts needed a cornerback after not re-signing three-time pro bowler Xavier Rhodes, who struggled last season, and traded another starter, Rock Ya-Sin, to get the Ngakoua to the Las Vegas Raiders.

And Gilmore believes he can help fill the void now that he’s healthy.

“You have to prove yourself every year, so I take that mindset every year,” he said before addressing whether he can return to his 2019 playing level. “I have to earn it. You can’t do that unless you work, unless you go out and earn every week.

Gilmore has been one of the league’s top cover cornerbacks since Buffalo drafted him in 2012 with the number 10 overall pick.

He flourished in 2017 after joining New England, where he made 11 interceptions and broke 52 passes in four seasons. Those stats included a league-high 20 passes defended and six interceptions, finishing second in the league during their award-winning season. Gilmore became the first defensive player to be selected as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year since Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu in 2010.

Cornerback switching teams in their 30s have made successful changes over the past decade.

The list includes Darrell Revis, who won the Super Bowl with New England after leaving the New York Jets, and Richard Sherman, who helped San Francisco win the 2019 NFC Championship before losing to Kansas City in the Super Bowl.

Even Rhodes played well in 2020, his first season with the Colts.

Gilmore’s self-described aggressive style Might help him get on that list.

“It’s playing the ball, whether it’s punching the ball or just being aggressive at the receiver,” he said. “That’s my thing. That’s what I do, that’s what I’ve been doing my whole career.”

The Colts will soon find out how and where Gilmore fits in.

He opened the first leg of the off-season workout on Monday, which is scheduled to run each week until the beginning of June. The workouts include a three-day rookie minicamp scheduled for mid-May and a three-day mandatory June camp for veterans and rookies to cap it.

Between now and then, general manager Chris Ballard will continue to add players through next week’s draft, without draft free agents and perhaps even more moves in veteran free agency.

But, for now, the Colts believe they have closed a glaring hole with the eager Gilmore.

“We have a lot of great players on the defensive side of the ball and with my skills, I feel like I can play whatever they want me to play,” he said. “I’m just hoping to get better as a person, working on my technique and playing the plan right.”

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More Associated Press NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl And https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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