Jacksonville Jaguars have had ‘conversations’ about keeping Canadian QB Nathan Rourke on 53-man active roster

Courtesy: AP/Paul Sancya

The Jacksonville Jaguars have a plan for divvying up playing time for their quarterbacks ahead of their third and final preseason game.

Franchise man Trevor Lawerence is scheduled to get the opening half against the Miami Dolphins with veteran backup C.J. Beathard starting the third quarter and Canadian QB Nathan Rourke possibly seeing action after that.

“C.J. will get the first action coming out of the half and then Nathan will get an opportunity if the situation fits. It doesn’t always go that way, we’re saying it, it’s not stamped in concrete or anything like that — things can change,” said offensive coordinator Press Taylor.

“That’s the one thing is we reserve the right to change depending on whatever happens within a situation, a game, today, tomorrow, whatever that may be. But C.J. continues to be our second quarterback and Nathan’s continuing to compete in that third role right now.”

Rourke has played well in two exhibition games with the Jags, completing 19-of-29 passes (66 percent) for 274 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions while rushing 12 times for 34 yards and one TD. The 25-year-old has led touchdown drives on four of his eight possessions that didn’t end in a victory formation. His performance has caused Jacksonville to discuss keeping three quarterbacks on the 53-man active roster.

“We’ve had those conversations here and there. It’s a case-by-case, week-by-week basis. There may be a situation where you keep that guy on the 53,” Taylor said.

“If you need the bodies at another position and you’re healthy at quarterback, maybe that week you don’t have a third quarterback. Just like anything in this league, things can change so quickly. I don’t know if there is one blanket philosophy we have on that situation.”

In the offseason, NFL owners approved a bylaw allowing teams to dress an emergency third quarterback on game days without using an active roster spot, which adds to Rourke’s value. Each team may designate one QB from its 53-man active/inactive player list. That player will be eligible to be activated during the game if a team’s first two quarterbacks are removed due to injury. If either injured quarterback is cleared by the medical staff to return to the field, the emergency QB must be removed from the game.

“You take into account the health of your quarterbacks at the moment. If you had one that was going in maybe injured a little bit and would be a little more likely to re-injure or something like that, maybe then the value would be having another one. It’s one of those situations where you don’t need it until you need it,” Taylor said.

Jacksonville did not sign a QB in free agency or select one in the 2023 NFL Draft, which shows the Jaguars’ belief in Rourke. From 1991-2010, NFL teams could have three quarterbacks active on game day, but that option disappeared until now. It’s important to note that a team cannot use the emergency quarterback bylaw if already carrying three on its active game-day roster.

“I know they did it with the third quarterback being available, went away from it and have gone back to it,” Taylor said. “They’re continuing to try to meet the needs of whatever is going on within the league in that certain timeframe and come up with the best rule for it. Each team’s philosophy is probably going to change on how they approach it and I think it should based on week-to-week situations.”

Jacksonville hosts the Dolphins in the team’s final preseason game on Saturday at TIAA Bank Field. The Jags begin the 2023 regular season on Sunday, Sept. 10 with a visit to Indianapolis to play the Colts.

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