The Patriots lost core special teamer Nate Ebner early in their 35-17 win over the Dolphins on Sunday, and now they may have lost him for the rest of the season.
According to the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport via Twitter on Monday morning, Ebner’s knee injury is “believed to be season-ending.” The team is waiting on confirmation through an MRI later on Monday.
UPDATE: The Patriots officially played Ebner on injured reserve on Monday, ending his season.
Ebner injured his knee while carrying the football on a fake punt play early in the first quarter, taking the direct snap and running for 14 yards before being forced out of bounds by the Dolphins’ Alterraun Verner and Michael Thomas. The Patriots quickly ruled him out for the rest of the game after he was injured on the play.
A former walk-on at Ohio State and Team U.S.A. rugby player at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Ebner has developed into one of the Patriots’ most important special teams players since being drafted in the sixth round in 2012. He was voted as a Second Team All-Pro in 2016 by the Associated Press.
New England’s special teams units have performed at a high level in recent weeks, most recently dominating in the Pats’ 41-16 win over the Broncos in Week 10. The group is being ravaged by injuries, however, as captain Matthew Slater has been in and out of the lineup with a hamstring injury and linebacker Trevor Reilly also suffered a scary-looking collision with the Dolphins’ Senorise Perry during a kickoff on Sunday.