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Minor knee injury reportedly kept Stephon Gilmore from finishing practice on Thursday, status for Patriots-Bills unclear

Related: Bill Belichick won’t address any trade rumors, but will talk about how great a player Stephon Gilmore is

New England Patriots Practice Staff Photo By Matt Stone/ MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

The New England Patriots’ practice report featured a season-high 12 players on Thursday, including some big names such as wide receivers Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry, guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason, and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy. Also on the list was the Patriots’ best defender: cornerback Stephon Gilmore was classified as a limited participant because of a knee ailment.

On Friday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport added some more information to the status of the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Gilmore reportedly “tweaked his knee” and had to undergo an MRI after leaving Thursday’s practice.

While his status for Sunday’s game against the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills is unclear, the injury is believed to be minor. Accordingly, there appears to be a chance that Gilmore participates in the trip to Western New York and the contest versus his ex-club. Of course, Friday’s injury report, which will be released in the afternoon, will give further clarity about his status as a practice participant and his outlook for this week’s game.

Even without Gilmore, the defensive backfield would be a strength for the Patriots. The team has J.C. Jackson and Jason McCourty as the top perimeter cornerbacks alongside the 30-year-old, with Jonathan Jones as the starter in the slot. Furthermore, former second-round draft pick Joejuan Williams and undrafted rookie Myles Bryant offer additional depth behind them.

If ready to go against the Bills, however, Gilmore is expected to again play close to 100 percent of New England’s defensive snaps — all while being natched up with Buffalo’s number one wide receiver, Stefon Diggs, for a sizable portion of the game.

“Steph works hard. He’s always ready to go,” said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick about Gilmore earlier this week. “We’ve changed up what he does based on our game plan and who we’re matched up against, the team we’re playing that particular week. But, he’s a very flexible player that understands what we’re trying to do and how it all fits together and works hard to do his part in it.”