Giants Hoping to Get Veteran Boost on Special Teams

The Giants are optimistic about re-signing Nate Ebner, who was a core special teams member last season.
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Safety and special teams player Nate Ebner is currently a free agent who is on a hiatus from pro football because he's been involved with rugby training as part of a quest to be a part of the summer Olympics this year.

But once the Olympics are over, New York Giants head coach Judge said the team fully intends to bring Ebner, who earlier this year released his first book, Finish Strong: A Father's Code and a Son's Path, back into the team's fold.

"We fully intend for him to be a member of the Giants," Judge confirmed.

This isn't the first time Ebner has taken a break from football to focus on the Olympics. He did so in 2016, back when Judge was his special teams coach in New England.

Because of that experience, Judge is very much at ease with what Ebner is trying to accomplish, and he's thrown his full support behind the defensive back and special teams captain.

"He returned from the Olympics in 2016 and had a tremendous year for us," Judge said of Ebner's 2016 season for the Patriots in which the safety recorded a team-leading 19 tackles on special teams, 13 of which were solo efforts.

"I understand exactly how his training applies and can lead in football. Honestly that was one of his most productive years ever. So he's a guy that's very locked in. He's very focused. He was a captain for us, last year, he was a great team leader, you know, this team and what he's helping build is very important to him." 


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Judge is always on the lookout for contributors on special teams and has a set of criteria that he believes makes for a solid special teams candidate.

"I think a lot of things we talk about when you talk about special teams players are more intangibles, sense of urgency, physicality, guys that really play with a heightened sense of intensity on field," Judge said. 

Last year the Giants special teams had a few unexpected rough patches in its season. Per Rick Gosselin's annual rankings, the Giants special teams finished tied with Kansas City for 19th in the league. 

New York's biggest issues were on their coverage units, which finished 26th in opponents kickoff return yardage and 22nd in opponents' punt return yardage falling from 3rd and 13th respectively the season prior.

"You really build your special teams and your coverage unit, and it's got to start with speed," Judge said. "Some guys are fast players, some guys are speed players, some guys are smaller more athletic speed players. But you want to make sure they have an advantage in space in single blocks and being able to beat double teams."


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