Nate Ebner To Take Leave From Patriots, Train For 2016 Summer Olympics

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The New England Patriots could have an Olympian on their roster next season.

Nate Ebner is taking a leave from the Patriots to train for the United States rugby sevens team, his agent, Sean Stellato, told NESN.com. The Patriots announced they support Ebner “in his effort to earn a place on the United States National Rugby team.”

“First and foremost, I want to thank the Patriots from top to bottom for giving me the opportunity to come back and play for a truly first-class organization,” Ebner told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“I also want to thank them and USA Rugby for giving me the opportunity to chase a dream I’ve had since I was a boy in a sport in which I’ve always had a passion. I can’t put into words how much this opportunity means to not only me, but my friends and family as well. I plan to represent the Patriots and our country to the best of my ability. Thanks again and Go Pats and go USA.”

Ebner recently signed a two-year contract with the Patriots after the team selected him in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. He has served as a core special-teamer and reserve strong safety since entering the NFL.

Ebner played just two years of college football with the Buckeyes after focusing on rugby during his freshman and sophomore years. He played on the United States national rugby sevens team while in high school and college. He also played on the Ohio State club team.

The Rio 2016 Olympics are scheduled to run from Aug. 5 to Aug. 21. Rugby competition is scheduled from Aug. 6 to Aug. 11. Ebner would miss the beginning of training camp and the preseason if he made the Olympic team.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots defensive back Nate Ebner (43) against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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