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USA rugby player, former Lions WR Carlin Isles open to another NFL shot

Carlin Isles is trying to win a gold medal in rugby for the United States next month in Rio. After that, he is open to many things -- including potentially giving the NFL another shot.

Isles, known as the fastest man in rugby, was briefly with the Detroit Lions on the team’s practice squad at the end of the 2013 season. He had signed a futures contract with Detroit after the season but left before the start of offseason workouts to focus on rugby.

“[The NFL] still lingers in my mind,” Isles told ESPN after this week’s Olympic team announcement. “But I don’t even know what I’m going to do. I plan on still doing maybe two more Olympics, still do track and maybe do football a little bit.”

The 26-year-old Isles said having a possible opportunity to make a team’s 53-man roster or even their practice squad would be enough to convince him to potentially give the NFL another try. He said he wouldn’t rule out even trying to make a team this year after the conclusion of the Olympics.

A good showing in rugby sevens at the Olympics could help propel him to that.

“It would only help me. It wouldn’t hurt me, a good Olympic showing,” Isles said. “I pray that when I get there, I can do what God allows me to do and take it from there. I’m sure a good Olympic showing would only be beneficial.”

Isles said he found out he made the United States rugby team on Friday -- something he called "surreal" -- but couldn’t tell anyone until after the official announcement Monday morning. It led to a weekend of deflecting questions, even though he knew he had accomplished something he had worked at for years.

And actually, Isles’ brief foray into the NFL helped crystallize his first major sports goal.

“It just helped me, just my purpose, you know,” Isles said. “Basically what I was meant to do and what was my real goal and what was I really chasing, what I was after.

“It just put things into perspective as far as purpose-wise in my life.”