There's a chance the New England Patriots retire Ty Law's No. 24 jersey one day. But in the meantime, Stephon Gilmore is serving as a pretty great custodian.
Gilmore had arguably his best season as a pro in 2018, earning first-team All-Pro honors for the first time in his career. The Patriots cornerback thrived in a traditional top corner role, either shadowing the opponent's top wide receiver or locking down a specific side of the field.
Fittingly, his style of play is reminiscent of previous Patriots to wear No. 24: Darrelle Revis and Law, who is one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2019 class. And it sounds like Law thinks very highly of the current No. 24.
"I love the way he approaches things,” Law said of Gilmore in an interview with ESPN's Mike Reiss. “The stats don’t always tell the tale, as far as what he’s being asked to do, man or zone. If (head coach) Bill (Belichick) says, ‘We’re going to match you up,’ he’s willing to do that and he’ll challenge guys.
"If it’s something else, he just goes out and plays the game and you don’t hear too much from him. He has a quiet demeanor."
Of course, Law and Gilmore are only similar to a certain point.
"I was one of those types of guys who would get pissed off if they didn’t put me on the best guy. I’d be like, ‘That’s B.S.!’ Stephon isn’t that way,” Law said. “But there’s no doubt in my mind, he’s a top cover guy, whether it’s Antonio Brown or Julio Jones or someone like that.”
Gilmore indeed is remarkably soft-spoken for an elite cornerback, while Law had no problem speaking his mind. Don't mistake Gilmore's lack of a big mouth for a lack of confidence, though. The 28-year-old knew he'd have big shoes to fill wearing Law's No. 24 in New England but still sought out the number when he came over from the Buffalo Bills in 2017.
“I applaud him for coming in and accepting the challenge of being the No. 1 guy and putting that 24 on -- it’s a hard act to follow,” Law said. “One of the other things I’ve heard about him is how much he watches film and asks questions, which is a testament to him. He’s never too big to ask.
"When I was playing, I’d call Rod Woodson. Or Deion [Sanders]. I’d ask them, ‘What do you see on this guy?’ I love that he’s willing to open up and at least inquire. It shows respect. And to ask for the number , I look at that as a compliment and confidence in itself."
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