Gilly Lock has officially been unlocked.
Stephon Gilmore was activated off the physically unable to perform list Saturday, which clears the star cornerback to make his Panthers debut Sunday against the Falcons. Gilmore will also be making his season debut, after being sidelined since last December with a quad injury. He was required to sit out the first six games because of his placement on the PUP list, and he missed one more while getting acclimated with his new team.
The Panthers acquired Gilmore from the Patriots in early October for a 2023 sixth-round draft pick, a modest price for the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year. Gilmore, an impending free agent, has been seeking a new deal after earning three consecutive Pro Bowl nods in New England. Now, he'll try to help stop the bleeding in Carolina.
After opening the season 3-0 and boasting one of the league's best defenses through September, the Panthers have lost four straight while regressing on both sides of the ball. Gilmore was added in the wake of first-round rookie Jaycee Horn breaking his foot. NFL Network's Mike Giardi reported at the time of the trade that the 31-year-old corner is healthy and there is "nothing wrong" with his quad.
That could translate to a lot more going right with the Carolina secondary.