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September 3, 2011; Columbus, OH, USA; Akron Zips quarterback Patrick Nicely (7) is sacked by Ohio State Buckeyes defensive back Nate Ebner (34) at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won the game 42-0. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

New England Patriots Nate Ebner has big game tonight

When the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots battle it out tonight, all eyes will be on the players fighting for a spot on the roster. One of those guys is safety Nate Ebner, who has quickly become a favorite among NE writers and fans (myself included) due to his humility and effort in practice.

Over the past week, Ebner has been picking off passes in training camp and is trying to make a claim for a roster spot. The sixth-round pick out of Ohio State never played much for the Buckeyes and was more regarded for his ability to play special teams coming out of college. Ebner has put himself in the thick of the roster bubble and could make the team if he can perform well in an actual game.

This is his big chance, and I’m rooting for him to make the best of it. Ebner, a rugby player, has great downhill speed and is a better tackler than coverage player. Still, it’s his recent interceptions that have made him such an interesting player, and Ebner’s performance in practice has been rewarded by the coaching staff.

After the well-regarded special teams player spent all his time in that role in the first preseason game, Nate Ebner will get his chance to have some playing time on defense. It’s time to see if the safety can prove himself against a good quarterback duo in star QB Michael Vick and talented rookie Nick Foles.

Also, watch for a lot of Shane Vereen. He looked great in the first preseason game and will get a lot of carries against the Eagles with Stevan Ridley out. Brandon Bolden will also figure to receive many carries- probably more than Vereen, because the rising UDFA is not a guarantee to make the roster. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t as he has shown value for this team, but the Pats did sign valuable returner and Olympian Jeff Demps (cannot play tonight per NFL rules).

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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Tags: Brandon Bolden Jeff Demps Nate Ebner New England Patriots Shane Vereen

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