Panthers activate Gilmore to face Falcons

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21:  Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots deflects a pass intended for Dede Westbrook #12 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fouorth quarter during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Combined ShapeCaption
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots deflects a pass intended for Dede Westbrook #12 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fouorth quarter during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Cornerback Stephon Gilmore, a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro selection, was activated by the Carolina Panthers on Saturday and is set to play against the Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Gilmore, who was acquired in a trade with the Patriots, was on the physically-unable-to-perform list while rehabbing from a quadriceps injury. He has not played since December and started to practice the week before the Panthers faced the Giants on Sunday.

The Falcons prepared for Gilmore’s possible return.

“You’ve got to prepare every week,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said when asked about Gilmore. “Guys coming back off injury, no different than Shaq Thompson. Gilmore’s a hell of a player, and if he’s out there, just another good player they added to that defense (that) you got to account for.”

The Panthers plan to ease Gilmore in and use him in packages as opposed to expecting him to play 100% of the snaps.

“Familiar with him, went against him in ‘18 and ‘19 and when he’s going, he’s as good as there is at corner,” Smith said. “So, (if) he’s healthy, I’m sure they’ll put them out there.”

Gilmore, 31, who played at South Carolina, was the NFL’s defensive player of the year in 2019.

Gilmore, who’s 6-foot-1 and 202 pounds, likely could be used to defend Falcons rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, who’s had consecutive 100-yard receiving games (119 and 163). Miami tried to use cornerback Xavien Howard on Pitts late in the Falcons’ 30-28 victory Sunday.

“It’s a very physical defense, plays with a lot of speed,” Smith said. “They’ve played multiple guys on the back end; they’ve obviously made the trades. Everybody’s getting a lot of attention, too, (CJ) Henderson. I’m sure it we’ll see Gilmore. They’re a really good, fast physical football team.”

The Bow Tie Chronicles

For more content about The Atlanta Falcons

Follow me on Twitter @DOrlandoAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta Falcons News Now

Atlanta Falcons coverage on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Falcons’ 2021 schedule features trip to London, January trip to Buffalo

Atlanta Falcons Schedule

Eagles 32, Falcons 6

Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25

Falcons 17, Giants 14

Washington 34, Falcons 30

Falcons 27, Jets 20

Bye Week

Falcons 30, Dolphins 28

Next Four Games

Panthers at Falcons, 1 p.m., Sunday, October 31

Falcons at Saints, 1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 7

Falcons at Cowboys, 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14

Patriots at Falcons, 8:20 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18