Postcards From Camp: Stephon Gilmore Is Playing Well – And Making His Colts Teammates Better

Veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore has made a bunch of plays during training camp, including an interception on Sunday, and is forcing the best out of his teammates on both sides of the ball. 

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WESTFIELD, Ind. – Head coach Frank Reich described Stephon Gilmore as the kind of cornerback feared by quarterbacks. Wide receiver Alec Pierce marveled at Gilmore's preternatural ability to know what route he's going to run before the ball is even snapped.

And quarterback Matt Ryan, after Gilmore jumped a route for an interception during a seven-on-seven period Sunday, quipped: "Yeah, unfortunately that's not the first time he's picked me off."

  • Gilmore's ability to not only cover but make plays in man-to-man coverage was one of the reasons why the team signed him back in April, and those plays have consistently shown up throughout training camp. "He's so quick to recognize routes, concepts," Reich said, "and then he has the ability to make plays on the ball and turn it over."
  • Since the start of the 2018 season, Gilmore owns the highest Pro Football Focus coverage grade (91.1) among cornerbacks; his 64.8 passer rating allowed is third, his 50.4 completion percentage allowed is fifth and his 11 interceptions are ninth.
  • The Colts also see Gilmore sharpening the skills of the wide receivers he's facing in practice. "When you go up against a guy like Gilmore," Reich said, "you're challenged because half the time he knows what you're doing and you still got to find a way to win."
  • Gilmore also added a pass break-up during some 11-on-11 work on Sunday.

"He's got excellent pattern recognition, really savvy, good ball skills," Ryan said. "He's talented and he's one of those guys who times times can put a seed of doubt in your mind of what he's going to do — is he going to break on something, is he going to give you something. With guys like that, I've played against a lot of them in my career, you have to be really accurate and you have to make good decisions. But it's gonna force us to get better. And that's really good work for our wide receivers, it's really good work for me. Going against good players all the time sharpens your skills and we're certainly fortunate to have him here."

The Colts held their seventh practice of 2022 Training Camp on Sunday, August 7.

The Colts' offense had a handful of dropped passes on Sunday, and while emphasizing that there were positives, Ryan's explanation of how he deals with those miscues was illustrative of his leadership style.

  • "My thing has always been physical mistakes happen," Ryan said. "We've got to limit them, and that's what we work on all the time is developing our physical skills. But it happens and you gotta move past it and believe you're going to make a play on the next play. And so the mental mistakes are more the things I get hung up on, and those are things we have to nip in the bud. Those are things we can control. We're all human. There's going to be times where you make a mistake or physically — I'm going to throw a bad ball. It happens. We want to limit that for sure and that's why we work so hard. But it's more the mental mistakes for me that are the ones that we control, we gotta be better than that."
  • Ryan added: "The drops, it's just like that kind of stuff in the huddle for me is always like, 'hey man, put it behind you, let's go, next play.' Whereas a missed assignment or something like that is more, 'come on man, we want to get it right, we expect better.'"

Other highlights, notes and observations from Sunday's practice – which took place in front of another full-capacity crowd at Grand Park:

  • Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue's energy continued to stand out. On Sunday, he chased running back Nyheim Hines down on an explosive run during 11-on-11, getting to Hines as the play ended while trying to chop the ball out of his hands. The Colts' defense has a standard of rallying to the ball – you saw it quite a bit last year, for example, against Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans – and Ngakoue has looked like someone ready, willing and able to meet that standard.
  • Speaking of Hines, Ryan found him in a tight window over the middle for a completion during 11-on-11.
  • Ryan hit tight end Kylen Granson for a chunk gain in 11-on-11, and zipped a completion in traffic to tight end Mo Alie-Cox in seven-on-seven.
  • Wide receiver Parris Campbell had an impressive snag on a vertical route during one-on-ones, too.
  • Quarterback Nick Foles had a couple of nice throws, too. In one-on-ones, he hit wide receiver Dezmon Patmon, who had a good release at the line of scrimmage, for a deep ball. And in separate seven-on-seven periods, he found wide receiver Keke Coutee for a catch-and-run and wide receiver Ashton Dulin downfield on a pump fake/double move.
  • Safety Nick Cross had a well-timed, physical pass break-up in a one-on-one matchup with Alie-Cox.
  • Cornerback Isaiah Rodgers came down with an acrobatic interception while guarding Hines in a one-on-one period.
  • Cornerback Kenny Moore II swatted away a pass during one-on-ones, too.
  • Cornerback Brandon Facyson had a pass break-up during seven-on-seven.

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