Jaguars quarterback Nathan Rourke’s play was one of the biggest highlights of Jacksonville’s preseason. However, he didn’t create enough buzz to stick on the 53-man roster.
While Rourke showcased his ability throughout the preseason, the No. 2 quarterback gig was C.J. Beathard’s to lose. After the Jaguars win against the Detroit Lions on Aug. 19, Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson said Beathard was doing exactly what he was being asked to do, and wasn’t going anywhere.
“I like the way C.J. operates,” Pederson said. “I like the way his mental capacity is, the way he thinks, he sees the field extremely well, and he’s tough. You saw some of the athleticism today, the movement skills and stuff with him. He throws a really good football, and he played well today, he led us into a couple of field goal drives there. He does a nice job for us.”
Pederson believes in Beathard’s ability, but more important is his role with the team. Rourke is only 25, and his most recent football experience comes from the Canadian Football League. He looked promising in the preseason, but he has a lot of developing to do.
On the other hand, Beathard is 29-year-old, six-year NFL veteran going into his third year with the Jaguars.
With starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence still coming into his own, the ideal backup is a consistent veteran who can help coach Lawrence when he needs direction. The Jaguars have their young, talented quarterback. They just needed a consistent veteran backup, and Beathard is the guy for the job.
Rourke made a strong case for a place in the NFL, though. He started preseason with a highlight touchdown pass and kept the ball rolling as the season approached.
He completed nine of 17 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown in the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Rourke then connected on 10 of his 12 passes for 121 yards in Week 2 against the Detroit Lions.
Pederson praised Rourke for his accuracy, toughness, and willingness to tuck the ball and use his legs following Jacksonville’s win over the Lions.
“Those are all things that I appreciate about him and the effort and leadership that he provides,” Pederson said.
He saw the field less in the final preseason game and finished with four completions for 74 yards against the Miami Dolphins.
Rourke impressed Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor and the rest of the team, which forced conversations about the possibility of having three quarterbacks on the roster. Taylor described the situation as a “case-by-case and week-by-week basis.”
“There may be a situation where you keep that guy on the 53,” Taylor said. “But if you’re light in another position, and you need the bodies, and you’re healthy at quarterback, maybe that week you don’t have a third quarterback.”
Jaguars starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence recognized “the great Canadian” — as he called him — for his highlight touchdown and other eye-popping plays. Lawrence said Rourke is just as impressive in practice every day and earned the respect of Jaguars players.
“He’s had some great plays, and that’s what you got to do,” Lawrence said. “The guy is looking to stick in the league and get a spot.”
Rourke could be eligible to return to Jacksonville’s practice squad if he clears waivers.