Gillislee ‘amped up' to be in uniform and on the field for Patriots


DETROIT -- Mike Gillislee didn't look like he had acquired much rust during the three weeks of training camp practices he sat out.

After getting over a nagging hamstring issue, the Patriots running back was back on the practice field this week and saw exhibition game action for the first time Friday night, running for 38 yards on eight carries in the first half against the Lions.

His first touch couldn't have been any easier. He ran into the end zone from one yard away early in the first quarter to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead. He saw more contact in warmups. No exaggeration.

Late in the Patriots warmup period, linebacker Kyle Van Noy stopped Gillislee and asked him to give him a quick "thud." Not full-speed hit. Just a quick shoulder-to-shoulder thump in order to hear their pads for the first time.

Gillislee obliged and promptly knocked Van Noy's mouth piece to the turf.

"I was a little amped up," Gillislee said after the game with a laugh. "This was my first time that I had on a Patriots uniform in live action. He told me to give him a little hit so I hit him."

Gillislee was forced to be a little more physical as the game wore on. He plunged into the end zone through contact later in the first quarter when the Lions committed a penalty on a point-after attempt, encouraging the Patriots to go for two from the one-yard line.

"It's been a long time since I've been in a game," Gillislee said. ". . . Last December. I was anxious to get out there and get the first hit. After that I was good."

Gillislee's longest run was a 27-yard scamper when he burst through an opening created by fullback James Develin and guard Joe Thuney. He explained after the game that the speed of the game didn't come as a surprise to him even though he just returned to practice -- "This is my fifth year in the NFL, and I've been playing football almost my whole life," he said -- and he thought that he was where he needed to be mentally when it came to being in the right place at the right time.

"It's timing," Gillislee answered when asked about what was impacted the most by his time away from the field. "I'm new to this team, this system and just practicing. I took visual reps each and every day in the film room and as I watched, but it's nothing like being on the field."

Now that he has some preseason experience under his belt, Gillislee is one step closer to taking over the "big back" role vacated by LeGarrette Blount via free agency during the offseason. The job seems to be his to lose so long as he can stay healthy.

"That's something that I can't stop," Gillislee said. "I had an injury, a small injury, and I'm healthy now and I'm back and doing what I've always been doing."

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