B.C. Lions’ head coach Rick Campbell says possibility of Nathan Rourke’s return isn’t false hope

Photo courtesy: Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

The B.C. Lions are holding out hope that a number of their star players will return from injury before the regular season is over, including star Canadian quarterback Nathan Rourke and receivers Lucky Whitehead and Bryan Burnham.

“We’ll see. We’re taking steps in the right direction and we don’t have any solid information but there’s reason to believe guys like Rourke and Burnham and Lucky and those guys could all be back before the regular season’s over. That’s not a guarantee but that is definitely not any false hope or anything, so we’ll see how that goes,” head coach and co-general manager Rick Campbell told the media on Tuesday.

Rourke was a limited participant in practice on Tuesday just seven weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a Linsfranc sprain in his right foot. The procedure typically requires patients to be non-weight bearing for six-to-eight weeks with full recovery ranging anywhere from three-to-six months.

Rourke originally expressed optimism that he would return from the injury ahead of schedule, indicating that he’d done so after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum while playing at Ohio University in 2018.

Vernon Adams Jr. has started the last four games at quarterback for B.C. since being acquired via trade from the Montreal Alouettes, throwing for 1,008 yards and four touchdowns to lead the team to a 2-2 record. Alexander Hollins and Keon Hatcher have played well in place of Whitehead and Burnham as well as both made touchdown catches against Toronto this past week.

Campbell indicated that while the Lions remain hopeful some star players will return, they are prepared to finish the season with the players currently in the starting lineup.

“We’re not counting on [getting Rourke, Burnham, and Whitehead back] at all, so that’s not our mindset. I was just saying that that’s not out of the question,” said Campbell.

Rourke led the CFL in virtually every passing category before he underwent surgery, completing 79.2 percent of his passes for 3,281 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions over nine games. He also ran the ball 39 times for 304 yards and seven touchdowns, leading the Lions to an 8-1 record.

The Lions (10-5) are scheduled to host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (14-2) on Saturday with kickoff slated for 10:00 p.m. EDT. The team is currently tied with the Calgary Stampeders (10-5) for second in the West Division standings, though they hold the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the season series.