FOXBOROROUGH, Mass. — As the ball was snapped and Julian Edelman began to run, Stephon Gilmore immediately recognized the route. The last time an opposing receiver tried to beat the Patriots’ cornerback on this type of pattern, his team paid dearly.

On this humid July day, the same thing happened.

As Tom Brady launched the ball into the air, Edelman had his eyes glued on the deep pass. Before that ball would ever get to the receiver’s hands, Gilmore launched his body into the air in a full extension and swatted it into the ground. Thursday’s pass deflection was identical to Gilmore’s breakup in the AFC championship game against Jacksonville.

As it turns out, Edelman was running the same route that Jaguars receiver Dede Westbrook ran on the Jaguars’ fourth-quarterback fourth-down attempt. Gilmore’s deflection that day, secured the Patriots trip to last season’s Super Bowl.

“Oh yeah, it was like the same exact route,” Gilmore said. “It was a different formation. I am trying to make plays, anticipate plays. That’s what it’s all about.”

This spring and summer, Gilmore has looked like the Patriots’ best defensive player. In his second offseason in Foxborough, this 27-year-old is more comfortable. That’s led to him making more plays in practice – on the days Tom Brady actually tests him.

On the first day of training camp, Gilmore swatted away a Brian Hoyer pass while covering Chris Hogan. In that session, Brady only threw in the cornerback’s direction once, hitting Phillip Dorsett while the defense was playing zone. On Friday, Gilmore’s deflection over Edelman was the first pass he saw. Later, Brady beat Gilmore for a touchdown with help from Cordarrelle Patterson, who made an outstanding leaping grab over the cornerback.

“It’s a good feeling. Second year here so you’re used to everything from last year,” Gilmore said. “Comfortable, but still got to work every day to get better and I’ve got great teammates. I’m just trying to learn from them. It feels good to be out here.”

For Gilmore, his first season in New England was a learning process. He struggled in the first four weeks of the season and took most of the outside blame for the defensive struggles. But after allowing 71 percent of the passes to come his way to be caught, Gilmore was a shutdown corner from Week 5 until the Super Bowl. In the final 12 games, quarterbacks completed just 52 percent of their targets on Gilmore.

In the Super Bowl, Gilmore also shut down Alshon Jeffrey after Jeffrey had a strong first quarter against cornerback Eric Rowe. Gilmore said he learned plenty about himself last season, even if the moments weren’t all positive.

“It’s part of the process,” Gilmore said. “Everything isn’t going to be all good and gravy all the time. You have to be able to fight and keep working, get better. You can’t pout because nobody cares about that.”

When the Patriots’ season ended, Gilmore went into the offseason with a few goals. One big one was to simply be better and do more in 2018. This offseason he’s trying to improve everything but is focused on remaining patient in the secondary. He’s also trying to improve his back-peddling. It’s also been noticeable that Gilmore’s been the first or one of the first players on the practice field to start training camp.

“It’s fun,” Gilmore said. “Not many people get this opportunity so it’s the best to be out here. You’ve just got to take it day by day. I enjoy it. I love the game. I’ve been playing since I was 6.”

As far as this offseason is concerned, Gilmore looks like a Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback. Of course the recognition would be nice. If he continues to play the way he’s been practicing, it won’t be long until the accolades come in.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s part of the process,” Gilmore said. “You go out there, make plays and help your team win, that’s what’s going to happen in the end. I’m just trying to really focus on day-to-day. I know what I can do. I know what I need to work on. If I can come out every day and do that, it will take me far.”

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