Indianapolis Colts

Matt Ryan praises Colts prized free agent addition at training camp

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It only took seven practices at Grand Park for former NFL MVP Matt Ryan to send a notable compliment to the league’s former Defensive Player of Year Stephon Gilmore.

This offseason, outside of the addition of Ryan, the free agent signing of four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Gilmore garnered the most headlines around the team.

Gilmore, who was limited to eight games one season ago as a Carolina Panther due to a partially torn quadriceps suffered during the 2020 season with New England, is again fully healthy and showing consistent play on the outside at Colts training camp.

On Sunday, as a sold-out crowd of 6,000-plus fans watched, Gilmore turned in the play of the day with a pick-six of Ryan during 7-on-7 drills.

“Unfortunately, that’s not the first time he’s picked me off (laughing),” Ryan said following Sunday’s practice. “He’s good, he really is. He’s got excellent pattern recognition, really good – savvy, good ball skills. He’s talented, and he’s one of those guys who sometimes 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 going to force us to get better.”

Gilmore is the unquestioned top cornerback on the outside of Gus Bradley’s defense, with former Charges and Raiders corner Brandon Facyson and third-year vet Isaiah Rodgers battling for the second starting spot.

In the secondary room, which lost highly-respected safety Khari Willis to retirement this offseason, Gilmore is making an immediate impact according the Colts coaching staff.

“I can just tell you from a quarterback’s perspective, he’s the kind of cornerback you fear because (the) way he sees the game,” Reich said following Sunday’s practice. “He knows what’s coming before it’s coming. He’s so quick to recognize routes, concepts and then he has the ability to make plays on the ball and turn it over. That’s what we’ve seen from start to finish. Love him. Love the player, love the person, love how he’s fitting in with this team. I really feel like he’s helping our defense and helping our secondary to kind of elevate it to a new level for us,” Reich added.

In 2019 as a Patriot, Gilmore collected a career-best six interceptions enroute to the AP’s Defensive Player of the Year honor. 2022 marks his third team in three seasons after agreeing to a two-year / $20M ($14M guaranteed) contract in late April.