Canadian QB Nathan Rourke displays accuracy, play-making ability in second NFL preseason game with Jaguars

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Canadian quarterback Nathan Rourke continued to impress in his second NFL preseason appearance for the Jacksonville Jaguars, throwing only two incompletions in a 25-7 victory over the Detroit Lions.

Rourke played the entire second half for the Jags, leading the team to two touchdown drives. He completed 10-of-12 pass attempts (83 percent) for 121 yards while rushing six times for 14 yards; showing flashes of the pinpoint accuracy and elite escapability that made him a coveted acquisition by NFL franchises this offseason.

“I like his poise, poise in the pocket — accurate passer. I’m sure there are some throws he would want back but for the most part, an accurate thrower,” head coach Doug Pederson said post-game.

“Made a heckuva throw, a couple back shoulder throws on the sideline, a slant throw on a third down. The toughness aspect of it, he’s not afraid to pull the ball down and run. Those are all things that I appreciate about him, the effort and the leadership that he provides.”

The Victoria, B.C. native went viral in his NFL preseason debut last week against the Dallas Cowboys, earning the attention of reigning league MVP Patrick Mahomes and millions of others with a spectacular touchdown pass after he broke four tackle attempts.

He finished 9-of-17 passing for 153 yards and the score in that game to go along with six rushes for 20 yards and one touchdown on the ground, a performance that Pederson stated he learned “a lot” about the young quarterback.

Rourke signed with Jacksonville this offseason following an extensive NFL workout tour that included 12 teams. He is one of three quarterbacks on the team’s roster and expected to be the third-stringer behind Pro Bowler Lawrence and veteran backup C.J. Beathard, who went 12-of-20 for 138 passing yards with one touchdown and one interception at Ford Field.

“I thought Nathan did well again today. Couple touchdown drives, he’s done a nice job — exactly what we ask him to do. C.J.’s our number two and Trevor number one,” Pederson said.

“I like the way C.J. operates. I like his mental capacity. The way he thinks. He sees the field extremely well. He’s tough. You saw some of the athleticism, the movement skills. He throws a really good football — does a nice job for us.”

The 25-year-old Rourke is coming off a sensational 2022 season in the CFL during which he completed 78.7 percent of his pass attempts for 3,349 yards with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 10 games — 8-1 as a starter. 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 passer was a three-year starter at Ohio University from 2017-2019 where he threw for 7,457 yards with 60 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He recorded 425 carries for 2,634 yards and 49 scores along the ground but received a small amount of NFL interest coming out of the NCAA.

Rourke and the Jaguars return to action on Saturday, August 26 at home when the Miami Dolphins visit TIAA Bank Field. Jacksonville begins the 2023 regular season on Sunday, September 10 when the Jags visit the Indianapolis Colts.

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