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Nathan Rourke’s Fate Hangs in the Balance: Will He Make the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 53-Man Roster?

It’s down to the wire for Nathan Rourke, the rising Canadian quarterback making waves in the NFL’s preseason. With an impressive preseason record and his eyes set on a spot in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ roster, Rourke has put himself in an intriguing situation as NFL teams trim down to their 53-man lineups.

Rourke had a stellar last appearance in the preseason game against the Miami Dolphins, entering the game in the third quarter. He immediately led the Jags on an 88-yard touchdown drive, highlighted by a 43-yard pass to Seth Williams.

The quarterback completed 4 of 6 pass attempts for 74 yards, proving his mettle until the game was abruptly suspended due to Dolphins receiver Daewood Davis’s alarming injury. Davis was carted off the field and taken to Baptist Medical Center, where he was reported to be conscious with movement in all extremities.

Before this outing, Rourke had turned heads with his NFL preseason debut against the Dallas Cowboys, earning praise from league MVP Patrick Mahomes. He completed 9 of 17 pass attempts for 153 yards with one touchdown, along with six rushes for 20 yards and a touchdown on the ground. He continued to shine in another game against the Detroit Lions, leading the Jaguars on two touchdown drives and completing 10 of 12 passes for 121 yards.

This Victoria, B.C. native is not just any rookie quarterback. Coming off a 2022 CFL season where he won the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian award—making him the first quarterback to win the honor since 1980—Rourke completed 78.7% of his passes for 3,349 yards with 25 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions.

The Jaguars now face a quandary. Under new NFL rules for the 2023 season, teams can designate a player as an “emergency quarterback,” but only if that player is on the 53-man roster. Rourke could be that player, potentially slotting third on the depth chart behind Pro Bowler Trevor Lawrence and veteran backup C.J. Beathard.

The alternative is risky: attempting to place him on the practice roster would make him fair game for other teams to claim. Head coach Doug Pederson has until Tuesday, August 28 at 4:00 p.m. ET to make this pivotal decision.

Jacksonville’s regular season kicks off on Sunday, September 10, against the Indianapolis Colts. If Pederson’s recent comments are any indication, the young guns have played “extremely well” and deserve a roster spot. But with 32 NFL clubs facing similar tough decisions, it’s a tense time.

Whether Rourke will find his name on Jacksonville’s 53-man list or be compelled to look elsewhere remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: This Canadian sensation has already proven he can play with the best, making his fate one of the most compelling storylines as the NFL preseason comes to a close.

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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.
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