Looking to build on a breakout year, Bears defensive lineman Bilal Nichols has set lofty goals for the 2021 season.
"All-Pro and winning the Super Bowl," Nichols said. "That's just how I feel. That's the type of standard I hold myself to each and every day. I'm just trying to get better and better and continue to reach that ultimate level. I feel like if I can reach that level, it'll help our team tremendously. That's all I'm focused on right now."
Selected by the Bears in the fifth round of the 2018 draft out of Delaware, Nichols established career highs last season with 16 starts, 40 tackles, 5.0 sacks and 7.0 tackles-for-loss. He also registered his first interception.
Nichols is entering the final year of his rookie contract. But he's not dwelling on what might transpire beyond this season.
"I'm just focused on this year," he said. "I don't really know. We're just going to play it out and we'll go from there. I'm just focused on winning the Super Bowl this year. All that stuff will take care of itself. You go out there, you play well, you bring a championship back here to Chicago, that'll take care of itself.
"I would be lying to you if I said that I don't think about it or that it's something that's easy not to think about because you've worked so hard your whole life to get up to this point. It's just about staying focused. I feel like if you are thinking about things in the future, you are messing up for yourself in the present. I try not to get caught up in all that. My time is going to come. I put the work in and I'm going to continue to put the work in. So, I'm going to let the work speak for itself. The work has gotten me this far."
Foles a true professional
After competing for the Bears' starting quarterback position with Mitchell Trubisky last summer, veteran Nick Foles is third on the depth in this year's training camp behind starter Andy Dalton and rookie backup Justin Fields.
While that probably wouldn't sit well with many established players, coach Matt Nagy lauded Foles—the MVP of Super Bowl LII—for how he's dealt with the scenario.
"I would say probably 95 percent of people in his situation would handle it completely opposite of the way he's handled it," Nagy said. "I have to give so much credit to him because he accepted it, he understood it. Was he happy about it? No. But he understood it.
"Every rep he gets—which isn't a lot—he acts like he's the first-string quarterback. He comes in in the morning and gets his workouts in super early. He stays after practice and gets conditioning in. He told me he feels like right now, he's in the best shape physically and mentally that he's been in his career.
"Honestly, that was shocking to me, because you never know where a guy's going to come into the summer or after the summer, and he's done everything in his power. So it's been really neat and he's been great for Justin and Andy."
Goodwin feeling grateful
Bears first-year receiver Marquise Goodwin said he was a "little disappointed" that he failed to qualify for the Olympic Summer Games. Goodwin, who competed in the 2012 Olympics in the long jump, finished 24th in the same event at the U.S. Olympic Trials in late June. Only the top three finishers made the Olympic Team.
"Not really frustrating," Goodwin said. "I'm grateful. I don't really harp on things that I can't control. I controlled what I could in that moment, which was to go out there and compete. And those guys were just better on that day, so I look forward to seeing them compete and represent the country well."
Goodwin wore Bears clothing while competing in the Olympic Trials.
"Just showing appreciation for the organization for allowing me to be in that position," Goodwin said. "I wanted to wear Bears gear to let the fans and the people who were following me know that I was still committed to football, and two, that I was excited about representing my team that supports me."
In his first week of training camp with the Bears, Goodwin has been too busy to watch any live Olympic coverage.
"I've been watching my playbook and the back of my eyelids and my daughter," he said. "I haven't had the chance to watch anything but highlights."
The Bears, along with the other 31 NFL teams, took to their practice fields on "Back Together Saturday," which celebrates the return of football across the league.