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Belichick trusts Ebner will return to football ready, in shape

Pittsburgh Steelers v New England Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 10: Nate Ebner #43 of the New England Patriots reacts after a play against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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With Patriots special teamer and backup safety Nate Ebner continuing to pursue his Olympic dream, Patriots coach Bill Belichick expects Ebner will eventually return to the team ready to contribute.

Belichick excused Ebner from the Patriots’ offseason program so he could begin rugby training in March. Belichick recently told the Los Angeles Times that Ebner “will still be getting excellent physical training and I expect him to be ready for the football season like he always is.”

Rugby Sevens is an Olympic sport for the first time in the Rio Olympics set for August. The official roster for the U.S. Olympic Team hasn’t been set, but Ebner’s contributions over the last several months that were detailed in the Los Angeles Times story indicate he’ll be a part of it.

Ebner signed a new two-year contract with the Patriots before leaving for rugby training. He was a sixth-round pick in 2012 despite not having played high school football and walking on for two seasons at Ohio State, but he’s become a mainstay on the Patriots’ special teams units.

He was third on the Patriots with 11 special teams tackles last season.