By Tim Graham
PITTSFORD -- Stephon Gilmore, entering just his second NFL training camp, should be the Buffalo Bills' best defensive back this summer.
Two-time Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd is involved in a contract squabble that could drag on a while. The other projected starters are new.
Gilmore, two months from his 24th birthday, looks like a keystone.
That's fine with him.
"I want to be the best," Gilmore said, "but I want people to say that for me. I don't want to put that out for myself. I want people to put that upon me."
Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has been around a couple great cornerbacks the past four years with the New York Jets. Many consider Darrelle Revis the best of this generation. Antonio Cromartie has been to two Pro Bowls.
Pettine "just says to keep working like I am," Gilmore said. "I'm working hard trying to pick up on things.
"Sometimes, I ask him questions about how them guys prepared for the game-time situations. So I'm looking forward to it."
Gilmore, drafted 10th overall last year, became Buffalo's first rookie cornerback since Nate Odomes in 1987 to start every game. Gilmore lined up against the opponent's top receivers increasingly more often as the season unfurled. He led the team with 16 pass breakups and had one interception.
Gilmore made 61 tackles, including one for a loss, and forced three fumbles.
"Later on in the season I started going against the No. 1 receivers every game," Gilmore said. "So that gave me a lot of confidence. And just me going and working in the offseason, just working on the things that I didn't do well last year, hopefully, it carries over into the game-time situations."
Analytics site ProFootballFocus.com charted Gilmore for 736 receiving yards allowed (12th-most in the NFL), a 15.0-yard average (14th-highest) and 244 yards after the catch (22nd-most).
But the site blamed him for only three touchdowns (tied for 41st) and an opponent passer rating of 91.0 (58th).
Gilmore also led the Bills with 14 penalties, including one that was declined, for 126 yards and 12 first downs.
He wondered out loud this afternoon if some of those flags were thrown because he was a rookie, but he insisted he will be more mindful of penalties this year.
"I know what I'm capable of doing," Gilmore said. "It's just me going out to the practice field, working on my game and taking it into the game."
taggedJairus Byrd | Mike Pettine | Stephon Gilmore