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Gilmore on return to Buffalo, covering Stefon Diggs


FRISCO, TX — There's not a lot of familiarity between the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills in recent times, making for an uncommon opponent that could make their coming matchup in Week 15 a ferocious one, but there's one player in North Texas who knows more about Upstate New York than most, and that person is Stephon Gilmore.

That's because Gilmore was the 10th-overall pick by the Bills in 2012, going on to spend the entirety of his rookie contract, including a fifth-year option, in Buffalo where he also earned his first Pro Bowl honor before finding another gear with the New England Patriots — where he'd go on to routinely face the Bills at Orchard Park.

"They have a great fanbase — one of the best fanbases in the league," said Gilmore of the challenge facing the Cowboys in Buffalo. "I've had some great games there. It's a great organization."

One thing Gilmore is more than accustomed to is playing winter football in the brutality of the northeast, but the forecast appears to call for mild temperatures and moderate wind on Sunday — four days away from kickoff — but it's well-known that lake-effect weather can change in the blink of an eye.

It's something the Cowboys will continue to monitor as kickoff draws near. 

"You just never know there," said the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year. "Just have to be ready for whatever element that comes."

Weather aside, the biggest focus for the Cowboys will be shutting down Josh Allen and the Bills' offense, and that means trying to bottle up Stefon Diggs, older brother of Trevon Diggs, and the latter isn't shy about sharing some inside information to help Gilmore get his job done and to help Dallas' chances of escaping with a victory. 

"He knows him a lot, and we talked about it a little bit during training camp," said Gilmore of Diggs' advice about his brother. "I'm [also] going to go through my normal process and study him, and hope to play well against him."

Stopping Allen will go a long way to keeping Diggs and other weapons like Gabe Davis and Dawson Knox at bay, along with working to halt James Cook without the presence of Johnathan Hankins.

Allen has only been sacked 18 times this season, and that's tied for the fewest in the league, so the Cowboys' league-leading pass rush will have its hands full up front while Gilmore, Bland and the secondary operate behind them.

"Josh Allen is a great quarterback," Gilmore added. "He can throw the ball — he's got a strong arm — and he can run the ball, plus he's got good receivers. I think it'll be a strong challenge for us, but I think we'll be ready." 

Last week, Gilmore played the best football of the season, helping to force takeaways and deleting yards after the catch with critical tackles, time and again, and there appeared to be an added oomph in his already solid play.

That's because there was one, seeing as A.J. Brown called him old. Gilmore explained why that trash talk not only resonated, but helped him find a gear that rivaled his 2019 season.

"Just trying to prove myself," he said. "That's really what it was. It was a little bit of fire in me trying to prove myself. I wasn't talking trash. I was just being physical and [talking with my play]. 

"… It lit a fire in me. You have to [prove yourself] every year. You could have played great last year, but this is a new year."

Truer words have rarely been said, and Gilmore will have yet another chance this week to prove he still has the juice — and entire orchard of it.

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