Bilal Nichols has big goals: ‘All-Pro ... Super Bowl’

After an “OK year” as nose tackle Eddie Goldman’s primary replacement in 2020, Bilal Nichols is back to primarily playing defensive end this season. It’s a comfort zone that has him thinking big in his fourth NFL season.

“All-Pro, simply. All-Pro and winning the Super Bowl,” Nichols said. ”That’s the type of standard I hold myself to every day and reach that ultimate level. If I can reach that level, I can help our team tremendously. That’s all I’m focused on right now.”

The 6-4, 299-pound Nichols has been a steady, versatile, productive player since he was drafted in the fifth round from Delaware in 2018. He had a career-high five sacks and 13 quarterback hits and his first career interception in 2020.

Though Nichols can play anywhere on the line, being back at end — and having Goldman at the nose — figures to be a boon for the entire defensive line.

“It feels amazing,” Nichols said. “We all know what caliber of player Eddie is — Pro Bowler. Best at his position. Just to have a dominant guy like the back with you, holding down the middle with Akiem [Hicks] on the other side — it’s amazing. We feel like we’re back to full strength now.”

The timing couldn’t be better for Nichols, who is in the final season of his four-year, $2.75 million rookie contract and in line for a big raise. But he insisted that’s the last thing on his mind.

“I’m just focused on this year,” Nichols said. “I don’t really know. We’re just going to play it out and go from there. I’m just focused on wining the Super Bowl this year and all that stuff will take care of itself.”

Fields Effect

Rookie cornerback Thomas Graham said hangs out with fellow rookie Justin Fields — playing games and going over film — and already can feel the impact of Fields’ personality.

“Energetic. Positive. He likes to walk around with a little swagger,” Graham said. “Stays confidence. I like to be around a confident person, because it just [instills confidence] in yourself.”

The hoops team

Jimmy Graham’s basketball background came into play in Friday’s practice when the 6-7, 260-pound Graham used his size to beat 5-9, 178-pound Duke Shelly to a pass. “Big-bodied him,” coach Matt Nagy said. “Duke tried to get the ball from him and [Graham] just used his size.

“We joke around in our offensive meetings every now than about who our starting five would be in basketball in that [offensive] room.”

Nagy said the team would include Graham [“at the 5”], quarterback Nick Foles [“running the point”] and wide receivers Javon Wims, Thomas Ives [“he’s sneaky good”] and Allen Robinson.

Sprint relay

Wide receivers Marquise Goodwin (4.27), Damiere Byrd (4.28) and Darnell Mooney (4.38) all have sub 4.4 40 speed. So who would be the fourth runner on a 4 x 100-meter relay team? Goodwin picked rookie quarterback Justin Fields, who ran a 4.44 40 at his Ohio State pro day.

Bits and pieces

Rookie left tackle Teven Jenkins (back) did not practice again Saturday. Nagy did not give a timetable for his training camp debut. … Graham was given a “load management” day. … Safety Deon Bush had the first interception of camp, leaping to pick off an Andy Dalton pass … Nagy said the Bears will be in full pads for the first time in camp at Tuesday’s practice at Soldier Field.

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