The New England Patriots ran a fake punt to perfection on their opening drive of the game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday — their first fake punt in 13 years. In doing so, however, they lost one of their most important special teams players.
Safety Nate Ebner went down with what appeared to be a non-contact injury on the play. After receiving some attention in the sideline medical tent, Ebner had to retreat to the locker room.
Shortly after, WEEI’s Ryan Hannable reported Ebner was ruled out for the remainder of the game with a knee injury. Typically, a non-contact knee injury which is quickly ruled a game-ending injury does not carry a good long-term prognosis.
New England is already without special teams captain Matthew Slater, who is listed as a wide receiver but is known primarily as one of the NFL’s best gunners. Ebner is similarly important to the Patriots special teams unit, so losing both could be a challenge for New England special teams coordinator Joe Judge.
Ebner will likely require an MRI exam to determine the full extent of his injury on Monday.
The Patriots are leading the Dolphins 14-0 late in the first quarter.