What was it that Clark Griswold - aka Chevy Chase - said in ‘Christmas Vacation’ when Cousin Eddie showed up for an extended stay? “Oh, Eddie… If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now…” Well judging by the reaction of both players and the head coach - at least publicly - the Patriots were pretty surprised at the news Stephon Gilmore would not make the trip to MetLife Stadium due to a concussion.
“We found out Saturday,” said fellow defensive back Duron Harmon.
“Saturday. I knew on Saturday,” corroborated nickel cornerback Jon Jones.
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When the Pats officially ruled Gilmore out around 3 o’clock on Saturday, the first thought was to check the injury report and see if Gilmore was or had been on it during the course of the week. The answer to that was no. Had something happened during the course of practice during the week? Again, if it had, and the symptoms were conveyed at the time, Gilmore - by NFL guidelines - should have appeared on the report. When asked about it in the postgame press conference following the 24-17 win over the Jets, Bill Belichick was direct, saying the team “followed the rules to the letter on the injuries like we always do. They were reported exactly as it happened.”
The league has access to the practice tapes so were there to be any inquiries, the tapes would have to be turned over. It seems unlikely - despite past transgressions - that the Pats would mess with such a thing. So this could simply be a case of Gilmore either not experiencing concussion-related symptoms until late in the week, or attempting the play through it before deciding discretion would be the better part of valor. Regardless, it is just another strange story in a season full of them for Gilmore and this Patriots defense.
Instead of turning to Jones to take the majority of snaps in Gilmore’s absence, the Pats looked to special teams whiz Johnson Bademosi, who was acquired back on September 2nd and hadn’t played a single defensive snap with New England. However, Bademosi isn’t a stranger to getting playing time at corner. Last season, he had 283 for the Detroit Lions.
“I’m a cornerback,” declared Bademosi postgame. “Every play is an opportunity to gain respect. Or lose respect. I’m not big on being disrespected.”
"The good thing, is (Johnson) Bademosi has been backup him up all week,” said Harmon. “Bademosi kind of knew the gameplan, knew what it was going to be, had some practice reps. And Bademosi did a tremendous job today. He didn't get all the reps, he got some. But for him to be able to go out there and execute the gameplan the way he did, it let us know that we can always count on him when his number is called."
Dependability/reliability is a trait often admired by Belichick, and that’s something that Gilmore has yet to provide during his brief tenure with the Pats. He was brought to Foxboro - in part - because of his size and ability to match up with some of the biggest receivers the Pats see on their schedule this year. He finally did that in Tampa versus Mike Evans and had by far and away his best performance. Now Julio Jones looms in prime time Sunday night, and if Gilmore can’t be there, Bademosi will be under the gun.
To go back to where I started, Clark Griswold just reached for another mug full of that “loaded” egg nog…