The sudden hiring of Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady wasn’t the only item of news that came from Carolina on Sunday, the team’s bye. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore, traded to the Panthers by the Patriots earlier this year, opened up about concerns regarding his final months in New England in an interview with Joseph Person of TheAthletic.com that was published on Sunday.
“When you return to play, you want to rehab back to return to play,” Gilmore said regarding the manner in which the Patriots, in his view, mishandled his quad injury. “But I felt like they were doing more workouts than rehab, more working out like someone [who] was 100 percent healthy and in the offseason program. But I was rehabbing, coming back from surgery. So that’s different. I think you should take steps to come back and play. . . . It was just making me do all types of running and lifting way more than I was supposed to. I’m just happy everything — I feel like God puts you in position to be in a better place. They handled it right here, and I’m on the right track. I feel good, better and better every week. And I feel more confident.”
Although Gilmore’s uncertain contract status (and the inability of player and team to work out a new deal) seemed to be a major issue in the events that led to the trade, it sounds as if the rehab drove a wedge, too.
“I didn’t show up there over the summer, so I was on the right track,” Gilmore said. “And then I show up there and start on all the unnecessary stuff. Like, right before I got traded, I ran like 3,000 yards in three days. Like a real workout. It’s like, why would you do all that right before you trade me? You don’t do that. Let me do it my way. I don’t know if they were trying to test [the leg] and see, I don’t know. I’m not the type of guy that says, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do that.’ I work hard. I do my stuff. I just think that wasn’t right.”
It’s rare to hear that kind of candor from a current or former Patriots player. Still, don’t expect coach Bill Belichick if have anything to say about Gilmore’s comments, if/when he’s asked about them.