With Akiem Hicks ejected from the game early, the Chicago Bears turned to their depth. Rookie Bilal Nichols gave them no reason to worry
So far this season, Roy Robertson-Harris and Jonathan Bullard have essentially split time as the third defensive lineman to compliment Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks for the Chicago Bears. However, it was interesting to note that when Akiem Hicks went out due to shoving a referee, that Robertson-Harris, Bullard, and Bilal Nichols all split time and saw an even snap distribution between the three.
You can argue that in the blow out of the game, it was a great chance to get Nichols, a rookie from a small school time on an NFL field. However, when watching the tape, it was clear that Nichols was playing more because Nichols was playing great.
Nichols was exploding off the football in ways that we have wanted Bullard to do. However, with that explosion came an understanding of where to go and how to find the football.
Take this play linked here. Nichols is lined up in a one on one matchup with Ali Marpet. He completely blows the veteran guard off of the ball and destroys rookie Ronald Jones in the backfield.
The play linked here shows his athleticism and explosion as well. Nichols can get off of the block, read the play and chase down a running back in space. That is great stuff.
Yes, it was cleanup duty in a blow out spot. However, at the very least Nichols has shown more in that half than Bullard has shown all season. We have already talked about his versatility at the nose being a contributing factor to his value. With a bye week ahead, it would not be surprising to see a rise in playing time for Nichols.
He should out snap Bullard, and if does out-snap Robertson-Harris, it may not be too crazy. We will see