Hicks: 'Rewarding' Seeing Success Of Rookie Nichols

October 22, 2018 - 2:18 pm

(670 The Score) Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks doesn't know when star outside linebacker Khalil Mack will be healthy enough to impact games at a high level again, but he does know the rest of the defense must pick up the slack.

Hicks graded his performance in a loss to the Patriots on Sunday as a C-, saying he could've brought more for the Bears defense. But one player who continues to catch the eye of Hicks is rookie defensive lineman Bilal Nichols, who forced steady pressure on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and recorded a forced fumble in the game.

Hicks has taken on a mentoring role to the rookie Nichols, so seeing the strong play from his teammate has been rewarding.

"It's one thing to have somebody come in and just play well," Hicks said on the Mully & Haugh Show on Monday morning. "It's another thing when you're around this guy every day and you know what kind of person he is and how he works as a young player in this league, how much effort he gives play in and play out. To see him have success is just so rewarding. I look forward to him taking his next steps."

Nichols has seen an increased role with the Bears defense, playing 55 percent of the team's defensive snaps in Sunday's game. A fifth-round pick out of Delaware, Nichols has asserted himself well with this group, recording 11 tackles in five games.

Hicks sees room for continued growth with Nichols, who's taking advantage of the opportunity early on.

"He has the benefit of being on a defensive line with guys like Eddie Goldman, Khalil Mack, Leonard Floyd, all those guys surrounding him," Hicks said. "He gets to use his skill in order to put himself in the right position to make those plays. There's an added benefit there. But you definitely have to kid the kid his just due."