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Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore returns to practice after his excused absence

Related: Cleaning out the notebook from Day 11 of Patriots training camp

New England Patriots Practice Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The New England Patriots are holding their second straight full-pads practice of the week today, and the session started with some good news: cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who had been absent for the last four sessions due to personal reasons, is back on the practice field to bolster the best defensive backfield in football.

ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss was the first to spot the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year:

The reason behind Gilmore’s absence is not known at this point, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick alluded to it being non-injury related during an appearance on WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni and Fauria show on Monday. Belichick said that Gilmore would be “excused” from appearing in practice and that “there are some protocols we have to deal with” before a potential return.

Gilmore posted some truly outstanding numbers despite regularly facing off against opponents’ top wide receivers during New England’s 2019 season. He saw 80 passes thrown his way but allowed only 33 of them (41.3%) to be completed for a total of 456 yards with only one touchdown. In the meantime, he registered six interceptions — tied for most in the league — and returned two of them for touchdowns.