Nate Ebner is not a football player.
He did not play high school football and in fact, he did not pick up the game until his junior year of college at the Ohio State University. He is a rugby player. It’s his best sport, regardless of his contributions to the New England Patriots.
Why? Ebner made the US Olympic rugby sevens squad. So what? Only 12 guys made it. Ebner is one of them. Technically, that means he is one of the 12 best rugby sevens players in the country. He’s not even the 12th best player on the Patriots, so there’s that.
Just watch him. He is legit.
With the Olympics starting on August 6, Ebner will be in Rio for the six-day tournament. Patriots training camp starts July 27, so yes, he will be late to training camp and Bill Belichick can’t complain about it. In fact, he actually seems supportive of it.
“Even though he will be away from our team during an important period of our off-season,” a Belichick statement read. “he will still be getting excellent physical training and I expect him to be ready for the football season like he always is.”
While a lot of high school football coaches don’t like it when their guys play rugby, the Patriots seem to be supportive of their guy as he competes at the highest stage. They even tweeted about it, so there’s that.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) July 18, 2016
For the Patriots, Ebner has mostly been a special teams contributor. He made 13 tackles last season; he made most of them on kickoff and punt coverage.
Defensively, Ebner does not really factor into the Patriots secondary. But, technically, he does give them some more depth, not that he’s a guy they want to see out there for four quarters or anything like that. Still a solid football player and an excellent rugby player though.