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Raiders-Bears Week 7: Bilal Nichols balling as he prepares to face former team

Defensive tackle came up big in Week 6 against New England

NFL: New England Patriots at Las Vegas Raiders
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders’ defense has been timely as they have closed out wins in the past two games as they have improved their record to 3-3.

One of the defensive players coming up big is defensive tackle Bilal Nichols. He teamed with star Raiders’ pass-rusher Maxx Crosby to bring down quarterback Mac Jones for a safety to give the Raiders’ a 21-17 win on Sunday.

Nichols has been so-so since signing with the Raiders in 2020, but he had a nice game against the Patriots and is primed to continue his success against his former team, the Chicago Bears on Sunday (kickoff is at 10 a.m. PT).

Las Vegas defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is pleased with the effort Nichols is putting in along with the rest of the Raiders’ defensive tackles.

“I believe it’s just putting in the work; putting in the work, working hard, gelling well together. They spend a lot of time on and off the field, and you can see it in practice in terms of the energy level of the whole group,” Graham said. “From [John] Jenk [Jenkins] to Bilal to AB [Adam Butler] to [Jerry] Tillery. All those guys working hard together, and Maxx [Crosby] is their leader in terms of being the leader of the defense and the defensive line. You can see them starting really to gel together, working hard together and getting some results from their hard work.”

Graham said Nichols has been steadily getting used to the Raiders’ system since coming over from Chicago.

“Bilal was a productive player before he got here, and he’s had success in the league for the bulk of his career,” Graham said. “The main thing is just playing hard like he’s always done and playing with his hands. Like most interior defensive linemen, that’s what you’re looking for and that strain that’s required. And again, obviously as the season goes on, it usually gets better because they haven’t really done anything really football-wise for them in the off-season. It’s just a different part of the season when you’re in the spring. Training camp, you start to look like real football and then when you get into the first part of the season, they start to get more comfortable. But it all comes from hard work. Whatever he’s getting out there on the field is because he earned it, and I couldn’t be happier with his work ethic.”

Let’s see if it pays off against his former team Sunday.