Nate Ebner has plenty of work left to do, but the New England Patriots safety took another big step towards his dream of representing the United States in the Olympics on Thursday.
Ebner has been selected in the USA team for this weekend's Hong Kong Sevens tournament, replacing Carlin Isles, who was deemed short of fitness for the competition.
Ebner, 27, took a leave of absence after agreeing a new deal with the Patriots in March, with his aim to earn a place in the USA Olympic team for the inaugural sevens competition at Rio 2016.
The tournaments in Asia and subsequent events this spring in Paris and London provide Ebner's best shot to nail down a place in the squad.
Ebner represented USA in rugby at Under-19 and Under-20 level and has appeared in 47 games over the last four NFL seasons with New England.