Friday, June 05, 2020

Giants Player Profile | Nate Ebner, DB/ST

Jackson Thompson
6 hours ago (June 4, 2020)

2019 Season Rewind

Nate Ebner's time with the Patriots came to an end after the 2019 season, but his eight-year tenure in New England was evidence of one of the truly remarkable stories that are possible in the NFL.

As a participant in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, Ebner is one of just seven players in NFL history to participate in the Olympics and also win a pro football championship.

Ebner's athletics tactually aren't even rooted in football-- they are instead rooted in rugby. He didn't play football in high school, instead, choosing to embrace the chance to play for the junior national rugby team for whom he played in three Junior World Cups.

He didn't even play football until college when he walked on at Ohio State and became the program's best special teams player. That was good enough to earn draft status, as the Patriots made him a seventh-round pick in 2012.

Ebner applied his rugby skills to the Patriots' special teams unit, earning a first-team All-Pro selection in 2016 but only playing one snap on defense at safety since 2018.

Over the past seven years, Ebner built chemistry with New England's long-time special teams staple Matthew Slater.

As an eight-time Pro-Bowler and five-time first-team All-Pro on special teams, Slater set a standard for the unit's work ethic, giving Ebner an example for Ebner to follow when he first came into the league.

"I learned a lot from Matt coming in as a rookie," Ebner said in an introductory conference call back in March.

"I just watched him work on a day-to-day basis ... coming to work with a selfless attitude to do the work that's asked of you to the best of your ability to put the teams' priorities above your own. That's what Matt did forever."

Ebner also developed chemistry with new Giants head coach Joe Judge, who worked with Ebner directly since also joining the Patriots in 2012 as a special teams coach.

The relationship between Judge and Ebner from New England is likely what brought Ebner to the Giants as a first-time free agent this offseason on a one-year deal.

Looking Ahead

Ebner's connection with Judge might make the 31-year-old veteran a favorite to be an ambassador for Judge's locker room.

Ebner will also work alongside the Giants' returning special teams coach Thomas McGaughey and assistant coordinator Tom Quinn.

Under McGaughey, the Giants boasted one of the top special teams units in the NFL in 2019, ranking first in kick-off return yards, fourth in punt return yards, seventh in punt return yards allowed and third in kick-off return yards allowed.

The addition of Ebner's championship special teams experience could blend well with the unit and lead to even further improvement to the unit and push it to the top of the league.

The Giants added a crop of potential special teams contributor through the draft and with the signing of their undrafted free agents. Ebner will be a central figure in the special teams unit that those rookies will look to find a role in, and he believes that the key to molding that group is through bonding.

"It's about finding guys that want to put everything into their work every day," he said. "It sounds like there'd be more to it, or it sounds like rah-rah stuff, but that's the truth. Just (be) a group of guys that are tight-knit and want to fight for each other."

Popular Posts