Bears tight end Jesper Horsted made the most of his final audition for a roster spot in Saturday night's preseason finale in Tennessee.
Horsted caught five passes for 104 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Bears to a 27-24 win over the Titans. After TD receptions of 20 yards from Justin Fields and 6 yards from Nick Foles on back-to-back possessions bridging the second and third quarters, Horsted made a one-handed catch of a Foles pass and turned it into a game-winning 54-yard TD with 6:51 left in the fourth quarter.
"This is Year 3 and it feels great to be comfortable in the offense and not have to be out there thinking about my responsibilities," said Horsted, who joined the Bears in 2019 as an undrafted free agent from Princeton. "I have great chemistry with all the quarterbacks from previous years and training camp, and I just felt very comfortable out there today and I think it showed."
Horsted played wide receiver at Princeton before being converted to tight end with the Bears. He appeared in six games with one start as a rookie in 2019, catching eight passes for 87 yards and one touchdown. He spent last season on the practice squad.
With Saturday night's performance, Horsted seemingly improved his chances of earning a spot on the Bears' 53-man roster. But with final cuts due by 3 p.m. CT Tuesday, he knows there are no guarantees.
"It's just going to be kind of a waiting game," Horsted said. "There's a lot of really good people who flashed great film this camp, so I'm always competing against them. I feel like I played my best today, so [I'll] just wait and see what Tuesday at 3 o'clock brings me."
Building cohesion: While the Bears rested most of their starters Saturday night, their No. 1 offensive line played the entire first half.
Left guard Cody Whitehair and center Sam Mustipher had appeared in the first two preseason games, but left tackle Jason Peters, right guard James Daniels and right tackle Germain Ifedi made their preseason debuts against the Titans.
"I thought it was good for them, it really was," said coach Matt Nagy. "That's why we wanted to do that. It was to be able to let them get out there; not even so much schematically as it was just them working together, them being in the huddle, them knowing what it's like together sitting on the bench with [line coach] Juan [Castillo] after a play, looking at the video together.
"Now we've got time to put it all together, get into where we're at. They get to see themselves on tape. Regardless of results of really what happened, I thought it was important to get that cohesion of them being together."
A great addition: After Saturday night's game, Nagy said that he's comfortable moving forward with Peters as the Bears' starting left tackle.
"I feel good with Jason," Nagy said. "I think Juan does. I think [offensive coordinator] Bill [Lazor] does. What I'm really impressed with [is] how well he's picked up the lingo, the terminology, he's done great there. And he's so focused. He comes in, he sits backm he hears everything. He's helping these other guys out, all the other tackles. He's awesome. That's all we can ask for.
"Now it's just the physical side; where's he at physically for Week 1? He knows it. We're going to step it up. We're going to get him going. He's ready for it. I think that's a really good acquisition by [general manager] Ryan [Pace] and his guys to be able to get him in here."
Pro's pros: Nagy praised nose tackle Eddie Goldman and linebacker Danny Trevathan not only for their performance against the Titans but also their willingness to play in the final preseason game.
"I appreciate their professionalism and understanding this third game," Nagy said, "and with some of the other guys not playing, them accepting that and them going out there and playing."
It was Goldman's first game since the second-to-last week of the 2019 season. He missed the finale that year with a concussion and then opted out of the 2020 campaign due to COVID-19 concerns.
"Eddie, he hasn't played in a while," Nagy said. "Eddie was like, 'Hey, I want to play. I want to get out there, I want to see where I'm at.' So, we appreciated that. We'll have to talk to him, see where he's at physically and how he felt. But I thought he played really well."
Goldman wasted little time making an impact, filling the hole and stopping running back Mehki Sargent after a two-yard gain on the game's second play from scrimmage. Goldman made a similar play against Sargent on a three-yard pickup later in the first quarter.
Trevathan, meanwhile, intercepted a Matt Barkley pass, broke up another pass and recorded two tackles.
"I thought Danny came out and made some plays," Nagy said. "Training camp-wise, we haven't been able to see him as much either."
One-liners: Rookie Khalil Herbert averaged 22.7 yards on three kickoff returns with a long of 25 yards … After struggling covering punts in their first two preseason games, the Bears limited the Titans to 16 yards on three punt returns … After going 0-of-11 on third downs last weekend against the Bills, the Bears converted 3-of-10 third-down opportunities … Linebackers Christian Jones and Josh Woods tied for the Bears' lead with 11 tackles apiece … Outside linebacker Charles Snowden recorded the Bears' only sack of the game.
See the game unfold through the lenses of our sideline photographers as the Bears face off against the Titans in the preseason finale in Nashville.