When the Patriots used a sixth-round draft pick on Ohio State's Nate Ebner -- he of the 23 tackles in three college seasons -- eyebrows arched.
But the high regard given Bill Belichick's football acumen (grudgingly in some circles) ensured that while eyebrows moved, tongues didn't wag.
Belichick gets the benefit of the doubt.
Belichick noted when he took Ebner that this wasn't a lark. He had OSU references, most prominently Mike Vrabel. The former Patriot joined the Buckeyes coaching staff last year and he gave a stamp of approval to Ebner, a former rugby player.
Whether Ebner turns into an every-down safety or is used almost exclusively on special teams will be borne out in the next few years. But Vrabel says there's a chance Ebner will flourish in the NFL.
"Hes got the ability to run at a high rate of speed and move and bend without slowing down," said Vrabel. "He can run through traffic without losing speed. Guys that cover kicks and maintain their speed in traffic are what you're looking for."
Vrabel sees Ebner's rugby background as a plus. "Whether you play rugby or wrestle as in Stephen Neal's case, you develop good balance, good body control. When you are a national caliber athlete in a sport, chances are there will be carryover."
The immersion of Ebner will begin Friday when rookie minicamp opens providing the first glimpse into what Ebner can become.
"Time is what hes gong to be afforded now and (the development of his skills) is what they hope happens," said Vrabel. "(At Ohio State) you dont have as much time with a player, just a few hours a day. So the ceiling may be what it was at OSU but with eight to 10 hours a day of work, he now has the ability to grow as a player. The tools are there. In college, there's only so much time you can give individual guys. That's going to change. And he's a great kid, I hope nothing but the best for him."
After being traded to the Washington Redskins this week, former Patriots center Bryan Stork broke his 35-day Twitter silence to say farewell to New England.
For those who are wondering, the acronym "HTTR" stands for "Hail to the Redskins," the team's fight song. #HTTR is used by the team and fans on social media.
Stork was reportedly mulling retirement after being dealt, but has decided to report.
The Patriots informed Stork of his release early Wednesday, but the Patriots and Redskins were able to work out a deal for a conditional 2017 seventh-round pick before the move was processed.
Ray Ratto joins Chevrolet SportsNet Central to discuss Colin Kaepernick's decision to not stand during the national anthem before the San Francisco 49ers preseason game.
Bill Belichick was expansive Saturday when asked on a conference call how he'll split the quarterback reps for the Patriots final preseason game Thursday in New York.
"I think that’s a good question, it’s a fair question, it’s one that we really have to give some good consideration to," Belichick began. "As I said before, I think whatever we do will benefit whoever does it. We want to get Jimmy [Garoppolo] ready for the Arizona game. Tom [Brady] isn’t going to be playing for a while, so it’s kind of his last chance to play until he comes back after a few weeks. Jacoby [Brissett] certainly could use all the playing time that he can get. I think that whichever players we play will benefit from it and it will be valuable to them. We could play all three quarterbacks a lot next week and they’d all benefit from that and it would all be good, but we can’t."
Since they can't, Belichick said there will be situational work done with whoever isn't going to get the game reps.
"We only have one game and so many snaps, so we’ll have to, between practice and the game, put them in some situations that are somewhat controllable like a two-minute situation or things like that that you know are going to kind of come up one way or another," said Belichick. "You can sort of control those in how you want those broken down, what’s best, what does each guy need and how can we get the best we need for each guy. I need to let them get the reps that they need, but it’s how do we get the team ready for what they need to be ready for. They all need to get ready for different things.
What Jimmy’s role is in a couple weeks is going to be a lot different than what Tom’s is, and it’s going to be a lot different than what Jacoby’s is. At some point later on, those roles are going to change again. So again, there’s no perfect solution to it. We’ll just do the best we can to try to have our individual players and our team as well prepared as possible at whatever point that is that we have to deal with, and whenever those situations come up."
As I wrote earlier today, this is the sticky and uncomfortable situation arising from Deflategate. It's not a Tom Brady penalty. It's a team penalty when one considers the ripple effects. And there's no handbook to consult.