As the NFL preseason winds down, so does HBO's “Hard Knocks.”We're heading into the home stretch of the miniseries that gives viewers behind the scenes coverage of training camp with the Los Angeles Rams, with the penultimate episode airing Tuesday night.
It's been a remarkably unremarkable season of the show, as the stakes haven't seemed all that high and the majority of the personalities don't seem particularly interesting. Still, as a football fan, the access HBO gets is enough to keep many entertained and there are still things to be learned week in and week out. Here are the takeaways from episode four:
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Outside of the one player who was let go after sneaking a girl into his dorm, we hadn't seen anybody released through the first three episodes this season. That changed this week — though it took nearly 50 minutes — as the Rams trimmed their roster to 75 players with a first round of cuts. It's always interesting to get an inside look at that process, but none of the guys that were axed in episode four were covered much (or at all) through the previous episodes, so there was no real emotional moment for the viewer. That may change when the team cuts down to the final 53-man roster in next week's finale.
Speaking of cuts, the star of this week's episode was Rock Gullickson, the Rams' Strength & Conditioning coach. He also serves as “The Reaper” when it comes to letting players know they have to go speak to head coach Jeff Fisher during cuts. His name is pretty fitting, considering he still appears to be jacked with a rock solid physique despite being up there in age.
For the first time this season, tensions boiled over in training camp and we got to see players go at it on the practice field. It happens each year in just about every camp across the league, but it's always pretty amusing to see how intense and violent guys can get before frustrations cool and everybody carries on with no hard feelings like nothing ever happened.
Will Hayes finds his Ariel
The weirdness of William Hayes has been well-documented thus far. The defensive end believes mermaids are real, yet strongly rejects the idea that dinosaurs ever existed. When a woman dressed as Ariel from “The Little Mermaid”showed up to practice, Hayes predictably lost his mind and couldn't resist going over and taking a picture with “his boo-boo.”
Of course, he also had to take the opportunity to push his anti-dinosaur agenda, saying “we ain’t never seen no dinosaur show up to practice.” Later, Hayes went to a dinosaur museum and repeatedly accused his tour guide of being a liar
Small stature, big pockets
Though he's still young and relatively inexperienced, the Rams clearly believe in Tavon Austin's potential to be a top receiver in the NFL. Fisher met with Austin and presented him with a four-year, $42 million contract extension, which the undersized receiver excitedly signed before embracing his head coach.
One guy who came away looking pretty poorly in this week's episode was Lemarcus Joyner. Though he made some solid plays on the practice field, the young cornerback got thrown out of a preseason game after getting in a scuffle with an opponent. Then, he later sulked and basically abandoned a practice because he didn't feel like he was getting enough reps. Not a great look.
John Fassel seems fun
The Rams' special teams coordinator hasn't gotten a ton of shine so far, but this was a big week for him. Not only did he crowd surf (with an actual surfboard) into a team meeting wearing full beach attire, he also hosted a Jeopardy game that pitted the young players against the veterans. He seems like a very fun dude in an organization with not a whole lot of very fun dudes. It's a bummer he hasn't gotten more airtime.
Speaking of that Jeopardy game…
Lasagna is a Mexican dish? My entire life is a lie.