Nate Ebner has not officially been part of the New York Giants since his one-year contract expired at the conclusion of the 2020 NFL season. However, you might not know that based on the way the coaching staff has gushed over the special teams ace in recent months. That’s because the U.S. Olympian’s return to East Rutherford hasn’t been a matter if, but a matter of when.
This week the Giants took steps towards making the presumptive reunion an imminent one, as they hosted Ebner for a visit. A deal between both parties is expected to be ironed out any day now, which is music to the ears of special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey.
“When he gets here, I’ll coach him. That’s kind of my deal with him. I love him to death,” McGaughey told reporters. “Nate is an outstanding leader and has been a great (special) teamer in this league for years. Anytime you can get a guy like that back in your building with that kind of leadership and that kind of experience, I can’t wait to get him back.”
In 2020, his first season with Big Blue, Ebner was named a team captain and played 81% of the team’s special teams snaps — a career-high. He also moonlighted as a safety and linebacker in spot duty last year, although the Giants would likely prefer to keep his defensive snaps to a minimum in 2021.
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Ebner’s Injury Status
The lone potential hiccup in a deal being struck would relate to Ebner’s surgically repaired knee. The 32-year-old originally sustained the injury last season while playing with the Giants, and while he has noted that he’s on track to be at 100% for the regular season, it did force him to bow out of his pursuit for a roster spot on the U.S. rugby team earlier this offseason.
“It pains me to announce my withdrawal from competing for a spot at the Tokyo Olympics,” Ebner wrote on social media in late June. “While my recovery is on track for the next football season, unfortunately, the timetables did not align with trials for the Games.”
Although Ebner may have not had the opportunity to represent his country this time around, he couldn’t be anymore thankful for head coach Joe Judge’s support through the entire process.
“Joe Judge was there the whole time, he saw me do what I did in ’16 and thankfully I have him around this time and he knew what it did for me as a football player. He knew what it meant to me,” Ebner told Talking Rugby Union. “When you have that support, it just allows you to confidently go towards what you want to do, and I don’t have to second guess their support or where I stand with them when it is done.”
The Ohio State product boasts a long-running relationship with coach Judge dating back to their New England days. The duo captured three Super Bowls together. Judge also oversaw Ebner’s most prolific campaign, a 2016 showing which culminated in second-team All-Pro honors.
Giants Continue Their Practice Squad Shuffle
The 6-foot-5-inch, 255-pound former seventh-round pick joins the Giants’ 16-man practice squad after starting 16 games over the past two seasons with the Pats. Over his career, he’s hauled in 19 receptions for 313 yards and one touchdown.
To free up space for Izzo on the practice squad, the team terminated the contract of wide receiver Damion Willis.
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