New England Patriots

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 03: Nate Ebner #43 of the New England Patriots holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Patriots defeat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 3, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Nate Ebner is reuniting with his former special teams coach in New York. The ex-Patriots special teams mainstay is joining Joe Judge to sign with the Giants, according to Ian Rapoport.

Ebner played the last eight seasons with the Patriots and developed into a cornerstone on their special teams units. In 2019 he played the third-most special teams snaps on the team (318), behind only Matthew Slater (326) and Brandon Bolden (321). In 2016, the Associated Press voted Ebner a second team All-Pro special teams player; Slater was the first team All-Pro that season.

Drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 draft as a former walk-on at Ohio State, Ebner quickly became well-known for his rugby background. Bill Belichick delivered on the apparent promise of using Ebner’s rugby skills to mold him into a valuable football player. Ebner never left his rugby roots behind, playing for the United States in the 2016 Summer Olympics and becoming a minority owner of the New England Free Jacks in Major League Rugby.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 30: Nate Ebner of the New England Patriots warms up before a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 30: Nate Ebner of the New England Patriots warms up before a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

That last part is why Ebner’s intent to sign with the Giants is a bit of a surprise. Owning the local rugby team could have signified that he wanted to call New England home for the rest of his career. But it makes sense that he’d be interested in continuing to work with Judge.

Giants fans who are interested in special teams should be excited to add Ebner. He’s still an excellent tackler and fundamentally sound player in that phase of the game and should anchor their units well. Injuries have become more of a concern as his career has gone on – Ebner has missed 10 games over the past three seasons – but when he’s on the field, the Giants’ special teams coverage should be that much better.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.