Patriots Rookie Nate Ebner Battling For An Opportunity to Earn a Roster Spot

Ian Logue
July 29, 2012 at 07:13pm ET

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Nate Ebner isn't a stranger to hard work and dedication.

As a matter of fact, it was his work ethic that allowed him to make a name for himself in college, with his former defensive coordinator at Ohio State, Paul Haynes, telling that Ebner was one of their most valuable players and that he was the type of guy who could do almost anything.

Now that he's in camp he's battling for a role with the team that decided to take a chance on him in the sixth round back in April, and he's in a situation where he's once again going to be forced to make himself stand out.  Patriots special teams coach Scott O'Brien talked briefly about the rookie on Sunday, telling reporters that it's a little early to tell what type of role he'll fill at this point.

"I think physically he has the skill set to have a chance to do what he did in college here and to compete here," said O'Brien.  "That opportunity is going to present itself but as far as being a skill guy, to us, it’s really too early to tell because with all of our young players, we’re starting with them at a position with every phase so they can just get acclimated to terminology, techniques, before you can even advance.

"What we always try to do is to put our players in positions, no matter what it is, with us in the kicking game, it’s different from the standpoint of they have to have the physical skills with what we’re asking them to do. It’s not like being a running back or being a linebacker on offense or defense. We’re putting them in positions to do something physically that they have to be able to have the physical skills to do what we’re asking them to do and then work on the technique involved there."

Ebner, who earned the nickname "Leonidas" in college - a Greek God hero who many remember from the movie 300 - is now in the position of trying to do enough to battle his way onto the final roster.  It will be a daunting task, especially considering he'll need to impress not only on special teams, but also likely on defense.  As we know a lot of the "bubble" guys really need to be versatile and able to fill in at multiple positions, which according to those who have been in camp it looks like it's up to Ebner to make an impact at safety.

According to O'Brien at this point Ebner is still just trying to get the terminology down and get comfortable out on the field.

"He’s like all of our young players," said O'Brien.  "He’s starting at a position, he’s learning the system and he’s going out and working his technique. Overall, all the young guys are working hard and doing a pretty good job."

He'll be an interesting player to keep an eye on for the next few weeks.  Training camp is a grind and it generally comes down to which player can outwork the others when the final roster spots are up for grabs. He hasn't dressed the last two days after sitting out again on Sunday, so for now he's still got a long way to go to prove himself.

On his Twitter Bio he says he's got a "hard working mentality" and he's "giving it all with the New England Patriots".  Most project him to be a practice squad player, but we'll have to wait and see when he finally gets out onto the field if he'll be able to make enough of an impact to do more in the coming months.