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Panthers easing Stephon Gilmore back into practice

Stephon Gilmore

CHARLOTTE — Stephon Gilmore got to come home a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, he got to work.

The veteran cornerback practiced for the first time with the Panthers Wednesday, as they see if he's going to be able to play this week against the Giants.

"Obviously, I'd love to have him play Sunday," Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said. "Will he play, will he not play? I don't know."

The Rock Hill native made a low-key entrance Wednesday, cruising into practice on the back of a golf cart with his new teammates (wearing his new No. 9 jersey). He didn't talk to reporters.

Gilmore is eligible to play this weekend, in what would be his first game for his hometown team since he was acquired in a trade for a 2023 sixth-round pick two weeks ago.

Technically, Gilmore hasn't been activated from the reserve/physically unable to perform list, and may not be until the end of the week. They want to see how he responds to his first practices since last December, when he suffered a quad injury that landed him on injured reserve with the Patriots. They had a specified number of snaps in practice they wanted him to take, after individual drills.

"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."

Because he hasn't taken part in a full practice yet, they're hesitant to put any expectations on the 2019 NFL defensive player of the year.

"Just trying to get him healthy right now," Rhule said. "I think one of the worst things you can do to football players is have expectations based on what they did in the past, start evaluating guys against what they're getting paid or where they got drafted. Everybody is on our team, we have a standard for how we want guys to play, attention to detail and effort. . . .

"He's done a lot of great things. I love having him around. I just want him to play football; it's what he does really well. Whenever he's ready, he'll play."

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