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THE MOJ: A Rourke return for the Lions? Let’s call it a long shot with a shot

Still a faint hope that B.C.’s quarterback sensation could be back in time for the playoffs

Legendary B.C. broadcaster and personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich has joined the Black Press Media team, bringing his wealth of sports contacts and knowledge to you with a weekly Today in B.C. Podcast and a twice-weekly column, starting today with this look at what the future has in store for injured B.C. Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke.

At the start of the 2022 B.C. Lions season, the biggest question surrounding the football club was whether or not Nathan Rourke could provide solid play as the team’s starting quarterback.

That question was answered rather quickly.

As the Lions head into the stretch drive, the biggest question now is whether or not Rourke can return from surgery for a Lisfranc ligament sprain in his right foot by the end of the year.

That question is yet to be answered.

Rourke was putting up video game numbers in his second year with the Lions prior to getting hurt in a game in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Aug. 19. Not only was the Ohio University product the biggest story on the team but he was also the biggest story in the CFL, having thrown for 3,281 yards and 25 touchdowns in nine games.

Rourke’s numbers were staggering and on pace to break several passing records. To put things in perspective, it took Winnipeg’s Zach Collaros and Toronto’s McLeod Bethel-Thompson a month to pass Rourke in passing yardage with only Collaros surpassing Rourke in touchdowns to date. As for the other CFL pivots, they’re all still looking up at Rourke and his numbers heading into the month of October.

Most people weren’t buying what the Lions were selling when it came to Rourke and his recovery.

A team press release days after the injury stated that “we (the Lions) are hopeful that rehab will leave the door open for a late-season return.” Anyone with access to Google would have begged otherwise.

Carolina running back Travis Etienne suffered a tear of his Lisfranc ligament in the 2021 pre-season and missed the entire campaign. Quarterback Matt Corral, a third-round pick of the Carolina Panthers this season, tore his Lisfranc ligament a day before Rourke got hurt and was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Yes, Rourke suffered a sprain rather than a tear but the fact the surgery was performed even had Lions head coach Rick Campbell pessimistic regarding Rourke’s return this year.

“I’m not counting on it. I think that’s a bonus if that happens,” Campbell told the media in late August.

Fast forward to the start of October and Rourke has ditched the scooter that he was using to get around post-op and has been seen at practice this past week sporting a walking boot – and throwing. It’s not like he’s a couple of weeks away from suiting up but it was a positive development as he beat the timeline by a week when it came to bearing weight on the surgical repaired right foot.

That, coupled with Rourke’s attitude, has some people now re-evaluating a possible late season return.

“If there is one person who can beat the odds on this it’s Nathan Rourke. All that preparation and dedication that you’ve seen him put into being a good quarterback…I can guarantee you that all of those habits are now being used find out the quickest way to recover when it comes to this injury” says Lions color analyst Guilio Caravatta.

So how would one describe Rourke’s possible return this year?

Well forgive me but I’ll steal a line from legendary CKNW sportscaster Neil Macrae. Once a week, Macrae would talk horse racing with a guest from Hastings Park with the last bit being “the longshot with a shot.”

That perfectly describes Rourke’s chances of a return this year.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press website.

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