Matthew Slater Reps Nate Ebner At Patriots Camp, Wears Olympian’s Jersey


July 28, 2016

FOXBORO, Mass. — Matthew Slater said Wednesday he was in the market for a Nate Ebner Olympic rugby jersey. He showed up to the New England Patriots’ first training camp practice sporting the next-best thing.

Slater took the field Thursday wearing Ebner’s No. 43 rather than his usual No. 18. Ebner is not participating in training camp as he prepares to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics next month in Rio de Janeiro.

?He might be a little bit surprised,” Slater said after the session. “I didn?t give him the heads-up. Hopefully he doesn?t get mad I had his jersey on.?

Slater and Ebner are two of the Patriots’ best special teams players, and the former said he’s been keeping the latter up to date as Week 1 draws closer.

?He?s living his dream, and not a lot of people get that opportunity to be an Olympian,” Slater said. “I gave him the install from (Wednesday). He knows what we did (Thursday morning). I?m sure I?ll give him the install (Thursday night). We know when he comes back here, he?ll be all-in here, but he needs to focus on what he?s doing now, and we understand that.”

The Olympic rugby sevens tournament is scheduled to begin Aug. 9 and run through Aug. 11 — the same day as the Patriots’ preseason opener. Ebner is expected to return to the Patriots once the tournament concludes.

“It’s unbelievable,” tight end Rob Gronkowski said of Ebner representing the United States in Rio. “He’s a great worker, hard worker, Nate Ebner. Always on top of his game out here. I know he played rugby before he came to the NFL, so huge props to him. Amazing accomplishment, and best of luck to him. Hopefully he brings home that gold and then (rejoins) our team. That would be awesome.”

Ebner, running back Dion Lewis and linebacker Jamie Collins were the only three Patriots players not present at Thursday’s practice.

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

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