The Chicago Bears brought veteran tight end Alex Ellis in for a tryout, per NFL reporter Aaron Wilson. The Bears were without two of their four top tight ends in their Week 5 win over the Las Vegas Raiders, as Jesse James missed the game for personal reasons, and JP Holtz was out with a quad injury.
Bringing in Ellis suggests Holtz’s injury could cause him to miss some time, with a move to injured reserve on the table. Chicago currently has no TEs on its practice squad, so if Holtz goes on IR, expect Chicago to add one. That could be Ellis, or it could be someone else, but considering his background, Ellis is a strong candidate.
The Bears also worked out TEs Daniel Helm, Ben Koyack, Nakia Griffin-Stewart and Carl Tucker.
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Alex Ellis: Background & Stats
Ellis played his college ball at the University of Tennessee, playing with the Volunteers for two seasons, from 2014-15. He played in 14 games, catching only 14 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown. He was used by the Vols primarily in key blocking situations, and that’s likely how he’ll be used by Matt Nagy and the Bears.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Ellis was signed by the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent as a rookie in 2016, but he was released before the season and he landed in Jacksonville with the Jaguars shortly after that. He made Jacksonville’s active roster, playing in six games, starting three. He caught three passes for 11 yards, while also contributing on special teams.
He spent some time on the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad in 2017, and he made the Kansas City Chiefs’ roster the following year in 2018, playing in two games and not registering any stats. He spent the 2019 season with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he played in three games. Ellis hasn’t played since the 2019 season, other than very brief stints with the New England Patriots and Las Vegas Raiders. If the Bears liked what they saw and Holtz goes on IR, don’t be surprised if Chicago signs him to its practice squad for added depth.
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Could it Finally Be Jesper Horsted Time in Chicago?
The Bears signed tight end Jesper Horsted as an UDFA out of Princeton back in 2019, and he eventually made the roster, playing in six games and catching eight passes for 87 yards and a score as a rookie. He made Chicago’s practice squad the following season, but earned a spot on the team’s roster again this year after a standout preseason that included him catching three TDs in one game. Horsted has played in just one game so far this year, catching one pass for a touchdown against the Raiders Week 5.
Horsted has established himself as a solid red zone threat, and the absence of Holtz could leave him with more opportunities. Horsted played wide receiver in college, but converted to tight end upon entering the NFL, and he has shown tremendous potential at the position. We’ll see if he gets more snaps in the coming weeks.