Patriots kickoff 2016: A look at Nate Ebner
To mark 43 days until the New England Patriots open 2016, we are profiling the owner of the No. 43 jersey, special teamer Nate Ebner.
Size: 6-foot, 220
College: Ohio State
NFL experience: Four seasons
Selected by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Ebner is one of the more fascinating athletes of his generation. Not only is he an extremely specialized and important member of the Patriots, but he is also an outstanding rugby player. In fact, Ebner is not present at Patriots training camp because he is slated to compete in the Rio Olympics for Team USA Rugby.
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Bill Belichick has evidently been very impressed with Ebner’s development from an obscure college prospect to one of the most integral parts of the Patriots’ special teams and a valuable depth player on settled defense. Here’s what Belichick told SI’s Austin Murphy before Super Bowl XLIX:
"His development has really been outstanding. I would probably put him in the, not the all-time top, but maybe in the top-five percent all time of players that I’ve coached, from where they were in college to how they grew in the NFL.[He] has adapted in a relatively short amount of time to the knowledge of our defense, to the understanding of opponents’ offenses, to instinctiveness and reading and recognition at a position that he plays right in the middle of the field, which is among the most difficult – inside linebacker and safety – where the number of things that can happen is the greatest."
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In his four years with the Patriots, Ebner has accumulated 47 tackles and two fumble recoveries. One of those fumble recoveries helped lead the Patriots to their greatest comeback win in franchise history, the 24-point clawing-back over the Denver Broncos back in Week 12 of the 2013 season. This writer has only been to one Patriots game, and it was that game; watching Ebner emerge from the pile with the football was a great moment.
Despite missing Patriots training camp, Ebner will have a spot waiting for him on the Patriots’ 53-man roster upon his return from Brazil.
Next: 10 Most Exciting Sophomore Pros on Pats Roster
Be sure to stop by Musket Fire on tomorrow morning as we count down 42 days until kickoff by profiling the owner of the No. 42 jersey, safety Vinnie Sunseri.