By Tim Graham
Stephon Gilmore is eager to discover how well he can play cornerback in the NFL, and he's waiting on one particular Buffalo Bills teammate to help him find out.
Gilmore is curious how effectively he'll compete against receiver Stevie Johnson, who has been held out of team drills while recovering from groin surgery.
Gilmore knows he can better measure himself against the best cornerbacks in the league by matching up with Johnson every day.
"He's had great games against great cornerbacks in the league," Gilmore said, "and I'm looking forward to playing physical with him and him teaching me stuff that I don't know."
Johnson, maybe more than any other receiver, has had New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis' number the past two years. Revis is considered the gold standard at his position, but he hasn't flashed his usual dominance against the Bills.
In Johnson's past four games against the Jets, he has 19 receptions for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Those numbers might not seem too gaudy, but when you consider they would translate into a season of 76 catches for 1,048 yards and eight touchdowns against an elite, shutdown cornerback, the production is remarkable.
Gilmore lit up when I asked him about Johnson's performances against Revis and what facing such a talented receiver can do for the rookie's development.
"I'm still going to go out there and play my game," Gilmore said. "It's one thing if Darrelle Revis is guarding him, but I feel that if I can come out and play hard, I can guard anybody. As long as I keep that mind-set, I'll be [fine]."
Johnson grinned when asked Monday about getting on the field with Gilmore, the 10th overall pick in this year's draft. Johnson is hopeful he can be cleared for full practice in time for next week's mandatory minicamp.
"Even if he wasn't on my team and just checking out film, you could tell he's going to be something special," Johnson said. "I'm happy to have him. He told me he's happy to have me on his team, but I'm happy he's on my team. He'll have me getting ready for the top cornerbacks in the league.
"I think he's going to be one of those dominant cornerbacks in the league."
(Photo: James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)