Doug Pederson learned ‘a lot’ about Canadian QB Nathan Rourke from Jaguars preseason win over Cowboys

Photo: AP/Michael Ainsworth

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson has kept a watchful eye on Canadian quarterback Nathan Rourke.

The 25-year-old flashed intriguing traits and abilities during his first NFL preseason game on Saturday, August 12 in Dallas against the Cowboys.

“Learned a lot. There’s some toughness there, mental and physical toughness. His ability to lead the football team. He was able to perform under some pressure, under some duress, made some really, really good throws. Obviously, the one that is most famous right now,” Pederson said.

During the fourth quarter of Jacksonville’s 28-23 win, Rourke spun away from two defenders inside the pocket and then into the arms of six-foot-three, 252-pound Ben Banogu, letting go a precise throw while being dragged down to the turf for a 21-yard touchdown to Qadree Ollison.

That play went viral — helped by Patrick Mahomes tweeting: “That was nasty!!!” — but it was just one of Rourke’s completions, as he connected on 9-of-17 pass attempts for 153 passing yards with one touchdown and rushed six times for 20 yards and one TD.

“Exciting to see from a young player who is competing and trying to make a spot,” Pederson said. “One thing I appreciate about Nate, he’s the same guy every day. He’s humble and he comes to work to get better. That’s the way he handled last week.”

The Victoria, B.C. native produced a sensational 2022 season in the CFL with the B.C. Lions during which he completed 78.7 percent of his pass attempts for 3,349 yards with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 10 games. He ran the football 39 times for 304 yards and seven scores while becoming the first quarterback to win the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian award since 1980.

The six-foot-two, 209-pound dual-threat QB signed with the Jaguars this offseason following an extensive NFL workout tour that included 12 teams. He is one of three quarterbacks on the team’s roster along with Pro Bowler Trevor Lawrence and veteran backup C.J. Beathard.

Rourke has another chance to impress Pederson and other NFL talent evaluators on Saturday, August 19 when the Jags take on the Detroit Lions. Jacksonville opens the 2023 regular season on Sunday, September 10 when Jacksonville visits the Indianapolis Colts.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.