There were two passing touchdowns thrown by the Chicago Bears in four preseason games. Both were thrown by Tyler Bray. And both were hauled in by Jesper Horsted. Who saw that coming?
The Princeton Guy (as we affectionately called him on Twitter) was a big-time beneficiary of the Tyler Bray Show and doing remarkable things on Thursday night. So much so, in fact, he might have played his way onto the Bears’ season-opening 53-man roster.
Seriously, how can you keep a guy who can make THIS catch off the roster:
Horsted entered Thursday’s preseason finale as part of the glob of tight end projects aiming to carve out a niche and earn a spot on the 53-man roster. It was a tall task, but one Horsted might have captured with his route-running and pass-catching ability he has displayed over the last two weeks.
In Horsted’s last two preseason games, he has caught eight passes, gained 121 receiving yards, and has two touchdowns. Punch those numbers into a calculator and it comes out to a 156.6 passer rating for Bears quarterbacks when targeting Horsted over the last two exhibitions.
Sure, we’re talking about a small sample of passes in preseason contests against players who aren’t likely to make their respective team’s rosters. But think of it this way: Horsted emerged triumphant in battles featuring players fighting for their professional football lives. That should mean something (and it’s certainly better than, you know, not dominating them).
At minimum, Horsted has performed well enough for us to have a conversation on where he could fit on this roster. Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, and Ben Braunecker are locks, but the tight end is an important position in Matt Nagy’s offense and the ability to catch passes is key. Horsted’s inexperience at the position (he was a wide receiver by trade at Princeton) means he still has a bunch of catching up to do as far as blocking goes, which might hurt his chances at making the roster out of the gate.
Unfortunately for Horsted, the crunch of the numbers game works against him. With the top three tight end options likely to be joined by converted tackle Bradley Sowell, it might be asking too much to fit a fifth player into that group. Horsted could slide into a practice squad spot, but his last two games could have put him on the radar of a team in search of tight end depth.
So if you’re in search of a storyline worth following that has nothing to do with the Bears’ kicking situation, keep an eye on what the team does with Horsted and the tight end spot.