Patriots Safety Nate Ebner Taking Leave to Train for Olympic Rugby

And the team supports him.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

Patriots safety Nate Ebner has already captured the Vince Lombardi Trophy with New England last year. Now, he’s set his sights on Olympic gold.

Ebner, 27, is taking a leave of absence from the Patriots starting Tuesday to begin his Olympic training with the U.S. rugby team in California ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, his agent Sean Stellato told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He’ll rejoin the team in August.

“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 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.”

The Patriots, who recently resigned Ebner as an unrestricted free agent, tweeted their support for No. 43.

“I plan to represent the Patriots and our country to the best of my ability. Thanks again and Go Pats and go USA,” Ebner said.

At age 17, the Dublin, Ohio native was the player ever to play on the U.S. rugby sevens team. Ebner was All-America rugby player at Ohio State before the Pats selected him in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.