Bears' Horsted Believes Development Just Beginning

Jesper Horsted is hopeful he can earn more opportunity with the Bears in 2020.

Chris Emma
January 15, 2020 - 12:15 pm

(670 The Score) Jesper Horsted never imagined what his 2019 would bring, as he transition from being Princeton's all-time leading wide receiver to a Bears tight end.

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The opportunities came quickly, and Horsted was forced to react and adapt with each one. It's why he looked back on his rookie season with pride while also expressing an eagerness to grow this offseason.

"It was a rapid transformation, both in mindset, my body and what I need to know being on the football field," Horsted said after the season. "I'm not where I want to be. I still think I got a lot of stuff to work on with that transition. But I have a much better sense of how to get to that final form than I did before."

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The Bears signed Horsted in May after he made a strong impression in a tryout. As a Princeton wideout, he had shattered school records with 196 catches and 28 touchdowns in four seasons, but the Bears believed he would be a fit at tight end and began converting him into that role.

Horsted added weight to his 6-foot-4 frame and began learning the U tight end position in the Bears' offense. He overcame an injury in training camp to make two touchdown catches in preseason action and then landed a spot on the Bears' practice squad.

When injuries took their toll at tight end, the Bears promoted Horsted to the active roster and plugged him into their offense. He finished the season with eight receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown in six games.

While the focus for Bears general manager Ryan Pace was on the notable absences at tight end, Horsted took advantage of his chance. The Bears also now have a sense of Horsted's development behind the scenes.

"They've seen what I can do and they've also seen a lot of what I can work on," Horsted said. "I just want to convey that I'm fully behind improving."

Horsted will have the opportunity to earn a place on the Bears' roster again in 2020. Because while Pace's plans for the tight end position weren't clear after the season, it's certain there will be openings.

Horsted ​sees himself still developing and believes he can come back even stronger in his second season.

"I have a lot of potential still," Horsted said. "A year ago, I was so much lighter and knew so much less about run scheme, defenses, everything. If I can make this kind of improvement in another year, I think that there's a really high ceiling. I'm really excited about that. That really gets me going. The offseason is a really good time to work on that and close that gap to where I want to be.

"I'm going to be doing all I can to get the best opportunity there next year. I'm still developing. I need to have a great offseason and come back better than I was this year. Hopefully I'm there to be that guy next year. If not, I'll keep improving until some day when I can be."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.