New England Patriots safety Nate Ebner is taking a leave of absence from the team to compete for a spot on the U.S. national rugby squad ahead of the Rio Olympics, the team announced Tuesday.
Ebner, 27, begins training with the rugby team on Tuesday. He is set to return to the Patriots in August.
“We are proud to support @Natebner34 in his effort to earn a place on the United States National Rugby team,” the Patriots tweeted Tuesday.
In 15 games with New England last season, Ebner recorded 13 tackles to up his four-year NFL total to 47. He was a sixth-round selection by New England in the 2012 draft out of Ohio State and captured a Super Bowl title with the Patriots during the 2014 season.
Ebner, who did not play high school football, walked on with the Buckeyes during his junior season, registering 30 tackles in 36 career games as a special teams player.
At age 17, he became the youngest player in history on the U.S. national rugby sevens team.