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Canadian QB Nathan Rourke’s NFL Preseason Debut: A Stunner for Jaguars and CFL’s BC Lions

The 2023 NFL preseason has offered one unforgettable moment that shines brightly, courtesy of a young Canadian who’s no stranger to electrifying play. Nathan Rourke, former star of the BC Lions in the Canadian Football League (CFL), made his NFL preseason debut with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and it was nothing short of remarkable.

From CFL’s Outstanding Canadian to the NFL’s New Sensation

Nathan Rourke’s rise to the NFL has been meteoric, having just come off a sensational 2022 season in the CFL. Rourke achieved a 78.7 percent completion rate, throwing for 3,349 yards with 25 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions in 10 games. Notably, he was the first quarterback to win the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian award since 1980. Gerry Dattilio did so with the Montreal Alouettes in 1980.

Despite undergoing surgery in August 2022 to repair a Lisfranc sprain in his foot, Rourke’s resiliency saw him return to lead the BC Lions in the postseason. His triumphant return in the CFL set the stage for his NFL appearance.

A Preseason Debut to Remember

During Jacksonville’s 28-23 win over the Dallas Cowboys, Rourke’s exceptional pocket awareness and ability to evade defenders led to a 21-yard touchdown throw to Qadree Ollison.

Rourke finished the game with 9-of-17 for 153 passing yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. His performance drew high praise from Jacksonville’s head coach Doug Pederson, who lauded Rourke’s “toughness and poise.”

Even the franchise’s quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, admired Rourke’s play, saying, “Nate had some unbelievable plays. That’s what it takes in these preseason games. He won the game for us.”

From BC Lions to Jacksonville Jaguars

The Victoria, B.C. native’s journey to the NFL wasn’t without its obstacles. After three successful years at Ohio University, Rourke’s talents took him to the CFL. His breakout season with the BC Lions earned him interest from several NFL teams, culminating in a deal with the Jaguars.

Now sitting behind starter Trevor Lawrence and established backup C.J. Beathard, Rourke’s NFL prospects look promising. Although he recognizes the challenges ahead, his debut play and overall performance have certainly made a strong case for his place on the team.

Rourke’s continued growth and contribution will be something to watch closely as Jacksonville progresses through the preseason. With the determination he’s shown so far, it’s safe to say that we haven’t seen the last of Nathan Rourke’s brilliance, both on and off Canadian soil.

As the preseason unfolds, all eyes will be on Rourke, who has successfully made the transition from the CFL’s BC Lions to the bright lights of the NFL. His next opportunities to shine will be against the Detroit Lions on August 19 and the Miami Dolphins on August 26.

Whether it’s his past exploits with the BC Lions or his emerging role with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Rourke’s story embodies the dream of many Canadian athletes, and football fans will be keenly watching his journey as it continues to unfold.

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Mark Perry Editor
Mark Perry is the founder and editor of CFL News Hub. A dedicated and experienced football analyst, he has been providing comprehensive coverage of the sport since 2018.


  1. David Tress

    August 14, 2023 at 11:47 am

    Nathan Rourke would have made more money in 2023 if he would have stayed in the CFL, and then after establishing himself some more, he would have had better opportunity to be a starter in the NFL, later on. Will he be satisfied as a third-stringer for the Jags?

  2. Tom Smith

    August 15, 2023 at 5:41 pm

    Rourke is guaranteed the $225,000 just for showing up to camp. If he beats out Beathard for the back-up QB position, he’ll get close to $1,000,000. The lowest backup QB gets paid $750,000 plus. Most NFL back-up QB’s are $3 to $5 million. I think Rourke could have got about $500,000 to $600,000 in the CFL with another standout yea. Zach Collaros is the highest paid player in the CFL at $600,000 per season. The next two preseason games will tell the tale. He can always come back to the CFL If he can back-up in the NFL for 6 to 8 years he’ll have taken home so much more money than he can get up north….
    I’m a Lions fan and would love nothing more than to see him come back, but football is a dangerous game where you are one injury away from ending your career. Make all of can while you can

  3. David Tress

    August 28, 2023 at 11:42 am

    If Nathan Rourke does not make the Jaguars’ roster and doesn’t get picked up on waivers then a CFL team should make him a generous offer. Nathan would be better off playing in the CFL then to be sitting on a practice squad in the NFL.

  4. Michael Muldoon

    August 28, 2023 at 12:05 pm

    Rourke’s goal is to make the NFL in either a backup or starting role. To improve to the point where he can do that, he needs to be on an NFL roster so that he can get NFL coaching, since very few QBs–meaning, almost none–go from the CFL into even a backup position south of the border. (Jeff Garcia was the last one of any prominence, and even he was a backup to Steve Young until Young got injured.) Rourke is clearly putting his hopes ahead of money.

    And what CFL team could make him a generous offer at this point in the season anyways? No one has enough money under the salary cap, and the kind of offer you keep hollering for a team to make would throw anyone’s cap out of whack even if they wait until free agency next year. As an example, just look at what happened when the BC Lions paid Michael Reilly $750K. They didn’t have enough to sign a decent O-line, and Reilly caught pounded game in and game out in the backfield because no one on the line they ended up with could block opposing pass rushers. Pay Rourke a “generous’ contract of the kind you’re advocating and the same thing would happen to him. Hell, Ottawa doesn’t even have an “overpaid quarterback” problem and they haven’t been able to stop a pass rush for four seasons.

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