Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- In order to facilitate a return to the field, Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore has had to essentially play as a one-handed man over the past two weeks. The second-year player fractured his wrist during the preseason, and to protect it, Gilmore has had to sport a club that exposes no part of his skin from the top of his fingers to the middle of his forearm.
His first game back against Cincinnati proved to be a bit of a challenge. The Bengals targeted Gilmore when he was on the field and yielded a lot of big plays through the contest. In his second week with the club, Gilmore was much more effective against Miami in an enhanced role on the field, but still had to overcompensate for not having both his hands at his disposal.
"Hopefully I get it off soon. I mean I don't know, I'm just listening to the doctors," Gilmore said. "They're just trying to protect me so I'm just trying get out there and do whatever I can to help the team."
A big part of Gilmore's game is his overall physicality, combined with jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage when the Bills are in man-to-man coverage. The club on his hand all but nullifies the jam attempts.
"I'm getting my hands on him, but I can't really get them like I really want to," Gilmore said. "I've got to use my legs more. I can't really use my hands like I want to. I've got to really win with my feet, so I think that's helping my game a lot."
As he just alluded, the wrist protection policy has forced the cornerback to be a bit more resourceful once he returns to his every down responsibilities on the field.
"I think it's helping me out in a way of when I get it off," he remarked. "I think it's helping my game be on another level. I think I'm learning a lot playing with it."
To start the week on Wednesday Gilmore took all the repetitions at practice as one of the starting cornerbacks, which also shifted Aaron Williams back to safety. That wasn't the only change on Wednesday. He didn't have the club on his hand during the session.
While that isn't necessarily a precursor to what will be on his hand this Sunday in New Orleans against the Saints, it's an encouraging step forward for the cornerback to get back to his normal ways.
"Yeah it feels good," Gilmore replied. "It actually feels normal right now, but the trainers know more than what I know. They look at the X-rays and stuff like that, so I'm just listening to them."
He admitted that as of a few weeks ago he was a bit hesitant to use his left hand, the injured one, to do everyday tasks. It's gotten a bit easier for him right around the time when he was inserted back into the defensive rotation.
Now the next step for Gilmore is to trust his wrist enough to be physical with receivers at the line. He said he's been taking steps towards building the sturdiness of the hand back up.
"Yeah, I do rehab. A lot of rehab, and weights, and stir the rice and stuff like that just to get my strength back," he said. "Once I get it off I'll probably wear a small little brace on it. I still have to wear something just to make sure I protect it a little bit. I'm just looking forward to getting [the club] off."