Stephon Gilmore eases back into practice and will play “whenever he’s ready”

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The Panthers traded for veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore two weeks ago. He practiced with his new team for the first time Wednesday.

The Panthers are waiting to see how Gilmore looks in practice this week to determine whether he will make his 2021 debut Sunday.

“Obviously, I’d love to have him play Sunday,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule said, via Darin Gantt of the team website. “Will he play? Will he not play? I don’t know.”

Gilmore is eligible to play this weekend if the Panthers activate him from the reserve/physically unable to perform list. He injured a quadriceps last December, and Wednesday marked his first practice since.

The Panthers had Gilmore on a pitch count of sorts in practice.

“He’s just beginning to move around, and get started,” Rhule said. “He’s limited. We’ll see how he responds to today and how he felt. . . . He did a good amount. But we just have to wait and see how he responded to football movements. This is the first time moving with us.”

Rhule added that “whenever he’s ready, he’ll play.”