Ebner overcomes early obstacle

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rookie safety Nate Ebner's first training camp with the Patriots got off to an unexpected start.

The surprising sixth-round draft choice out of Ohio State passed his initial physical, but apparently injured himself before the team's first practice (perhaps tweaking something in the conditioning run). That kept him out of practice for the first eight sessions.

"I had a little injury and took care of it," Ebner said Friday after his first practice.

Ebner, who wore a black band on his wrist with the words "finish strong", was all smiles after the practice.

"I kind of watch what the veterans do, and I want to earn their respect," he said.

If Ebner is to make the final 53-man roster, special teams will be the key. He was Ohio State's top special teams player, and that's where he spent most of his time Friday.

Last week, special teams coach Scott O'Brien touched on Ebner (6-0, 210).

"I think physically he has the skill set to have a chance to do what he did in college here, and to compete here," he said.