Why Ebert was different than Price

One leftover note from last week was the presence of rookie receiver Jeremy Ebert at the Patriots' organized team activity.

Because Northwestern doesn't hold graduation ceremonies until this upcoming weekend, the thought was that it would restrict Ebert from being able to participate in OTAs and this week's mandatory minicamp, per NFL rules. This was the same thing that happened to 2010 third-round draft choice Taylor Price, as Ohio had a late graduation (the missed practice time seemed to hurt Price).

Why was Ebert's case different than Price's?

In reading the fine print of the NFL's rules, Ebert fell into a different category because he was still enrolled at Northwestern and had finished all of his class requirements (e.g. he may have arranged to take his tests early).

Had he dropped out of school, he would have had to wait for graduation ceremonies before he could practice.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Ebert, who is wearing Troy Brown's old No. 80, had missed the first two weeks of OTAs before joining the club last week.

The seventh-round draft choice projects as a slot receiver in the team's attack, where Wes Welker is locked in as the top option and Julian Edelman is the top backup. Welker and Edelman both have contracts expiring after the 2012 season, leaving Ebert as the lone slot receiver under contract past this year (he's signed through 2015). While Ebert appears to face long odds for a roster spot, he would be a prime candidate for the practice squad barring a breakout preseason.