|Patriots DB Nate Ebner on how Rob Gronkowski might do when it comes to rugby||07.22.16 at 9:19 am ET|
Patriots special teamer/defensive back Nate Ebner was on “The Dan Patrick Show” Thursday morning to talk about his quest for Olympic glory as a part of the USA Rugby 7’s Olympic team. He discussed whether football or rugby is tougher and how he got permission from Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ organization to compete. Finally, Patrick asked him how Rob Gronkowski might do when it came to rugby.
|Nate Ebner blazing Olympic trail, but ex-Patriots RB Jeff Demps took his shot at glory in 2012||07.18.16 at 4:02 pm ET|
Nate Ebner’s berth on the U.S. Olympic rugby team is an extraordinary honor, but he’s not the first member of the Patriots’ franchise to reach for Olympic glory over the last few years.
Jeff Demps was a former track star at Florida who also saw time as a running back under Urban Meyer. The speedy Demps rushed for 2,470 yards and 23 touchdowns in four years with the Gators, but decided to forgo training for the combine and the draft after his senior season to concentrate on a potential Olympic berth.
Turns out, it was a smart move: Demps was a member of the 2012 Olympic roster as a member of the 4 x 100 meter relay team that won the silver medal.
After the games were done, Demps attracted interest as an NFL free agent, and the Patriots landed him with a three-year deal. He impressed in a brief preseason run, but ended up spending his lone year in New England on injured reserve, and the following spring, was dealt to Tampa Bay for running back LeGarrette Blount, one of the best deals in recent franchise history. Demps played in two games with the Bucs in 2013, and had a brief cup of coffee with Indy before he was waived last spring. He’s currently out of football.
|Losses of Tom Brady, Nate Ebner will give Patriots more roster flexibility this summer||at 1:07 pm ET|
The Patriots will have some addition roster flexibility over the course of the next couple of months.
Quarterback Tom Brady will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season, while defensive back/special teamer Nate Ebner will be gone for the next month-plus because of his Olympic commitment. While it’s unclear how long Ebner will be off the radar screen, in both cases, neither player will count against the 53-man roster limit. That means the Patriots could have some additional options when it comes to September cuts, and give some hope to players who might be on the roster bubble, at least in the short-term.
First and foremost, the absence of Brady over the first four games will cause plenty of speculation about the value of adding an addition quarterback for depth purposes for the first quarter of the 2016 campaign. Off course, that could all be rendered moot if rookie Jacoby Brissett is able to show he’s ready to back up Jimmy Garoppolo, at least on a part-time basis.
While it’s unclear when Ebner will be good to go, it’s expected he’ll start training camp on the reserve list. While the franchise could theoretically add another player at a different position, it’s worth keeping an eye on the likes of safety/linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill when it comes to filling that spot. Ebner wasn’t around for the spring workouts, but the Grugier-Hill appeared to handle some of Ebner’s old responsibilities. Once the Patriots hit the field later this month, it will be interesting to see how much the rookie is asked to do, especially when he lines up alongside the likes of core special teamers like Matthew Slater and Brandon King.
One more thing to remember: There’s a danger of locking into a specific school of thought that says if the team is going to lose a someone at one position for a stretch, they need to add a new body at the same position. And while that might still be the case, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them add more depth at a different position of need, at least until Brady and/or Ebner return.
Bottom line? Don’t get tricked into a traditional mode of thinking when it comes to the Patriots and the team-building process. They have some roster options and flexibility, and it’ll be intriguing to see how the team utilizes those elements over the next month-plus.
After months of training, Patriots special teamer Nate Ebner has made the U.S. Olympic men’s rugby team, USA Rugby announced early Monday morning.
Ebner was the youngest-ever player to represent the Men’s Sevens at age 17 and continued his rugby career at Ohio State before joining the football team and subsequently being drafted into the NFL. At the beginning of the year Bill Belichick and the organization gave Ebner the opportunity to fulfill his Olympic dream.
Ebner’s dad was a collegiate rugby player and after being murdered in 2010, he wanted to honor his late father and attempt to give the Olympics a shot.
The team will continue to train at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista before heading to Florida for a week where they will continue to train, which includes scrimmages against New Zealand.
Finally, the team will travel directly to Brazil Aug. 1. Friday’s side will begin play at the XXXI Olympic Games Aug. 9-12 at Deodoro Stadium. The USA are seated in Pool A alongside host nation Brazil, Argentina and 2015-16 Sevens Series Champions Fiji.
Ebner will return to the Patriots after the Games and is expected to be ready for the start of the season.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Nate Ebner on potentially making U.S. Olympic rugby team: ‘I definitely have my work cut out for me’||06.03.16 at 2:37 pm ET|
For the past few months, Nate Ebner has been away from his Patriots teammates and with his new teammates — United States rugby players — as Ebner tries to make the U.S. rugby team for the upcoming Summer Olympics.
In an interview with SportsRadio 94WIP in Philadelphia, Ebner updated where he is at with the tryout process.
“Going forward here, two weeks from now we’re going to start camp for the Olympics so they can finalize the team,” Ebner said. “It’s going to be a tough go. I really couldn’t tell you here or there. There’s a lot of great players. There are only 12 spots to make this team. Guys have been on this roster for many years trying to make this team, been playing for quite a bit of time. Like I said, there’s some really, really great players out there. I definitely have my work cut out for me and at the end of the day I’m going to leave it all out there and whatever happens happens.”
The Patriots special teamer also went into Bill Belichick and the organization’s reaction when he told them this was something he wanted to pursue. He signed a new contract with the team this offseason.
“It was interesting,” Ebner said. “I was a free agent at the time, too. So kind of talking about my next contract and things of that nature and talking to him about where my head was at with rugby — not just Bill but everybody and a lot of other guys in the Patriots organization.”
“At the end of the day they were really receptive and understanding of where I was coming from, and really (understanding) the player that they drafted back in 2012, that I was a rugby player,” Ebner added. “I’ve gotten a lot of support. I’m really thankful that I can come back to a first-class organization like the Patriots and have them let me take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
|Patriots’ special teamer Nate Ebner shines in win for United States rugby team||04.17.16 at 4:49 pm ET|
Patriots special teamer Nate Ebner is taking some time away from football to land a spot on the United States Olympic rugby team, and while he got lit up a few days ago, it appears he found his form Sunday in a 26-0 win over Portugal. Check out the video below.
|Nate Ebner to make USA rugby debut this weekend||04.07.16 at 12:55 pm ET|
Nate Ebner will make his USA rugby debut perhaps earlier than he first anticipated.
According to The Guardian, Ebner had been playing in the Hong Kong Tens tournament, but he will now replace Carlin Isles in Mike Friday’s US squad. Ebner will have four HSBC Sevens World Series events in which to make his case to make the Olympic team.
“I am absolutely not guaranteed a spot,” Ebner said on a conference call recently. “I have to try out for the team like anybody else and I have to earn a spot like anybody. I’m just lucky to even have the opportunity to even try.”
Ebner signed a two-year, $2.4 million deal with the Patriots last month and then shortly thereafter announced he would be taking a leave of absence to pursue his Olympic goal. If he does make the team, he will likely miss the first few weeks of training camp.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
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