Patriots’ Nate Ebner selected for U.S. Olympic men’s rugby team

Ebner during the 2016 Singapore Sevens Bowl Final between United States and Scotland at National Stadium on April 17, 2016 in Singapore.

New England Patriots special teamer and backup safety Nate Ebner is making the most of his sabbatical from football.

"I just keep my head down and keep going," Ebner told the L.A. Times recently of his effort to secure a spot on the roster. "Just want to earn respect through my work ethic."

"Even though he will be away from our team during an important period of our off-season," Belichick said in a statement, "he will still be getting excellent physical training and I expect him to be ready for the football season like he always is."

Ebner, a forward, has said that his lungs became sore from the grueling training and competition for the sevens game, which plays faster than the 15-man contest.

After fellow AFC East player Marquise Goodwin of the Buffalo Bills failed to qualify in the long jump after a seventh place finish at the trials, Ebner will be the NFL’s sole representative at the Olympics.