This week, I’m recapping the fourth and penultimate episode of Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the Atlanta Falcons. Here are the main things you may have missed if you didn’t catch the episode as well as some of the show’s highlights:
Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong starts the show by ripping into a number of young players in the special teams meeting room, stemming from missed assignments in the second preseason game against the Houston Texans. Devonta Freeman, Dezmen Southward, Ra’Shede Hageman, Malliciah Goodman and Jacques Smith are shown receiving the brunt of his rage. Armstrong says the following to Smith in reference to his lack of effort and execution on special teams:
“You ain’t good enough to be an asshole.”
Not to be left out in terms of ripping young players, defensive line coach Bryan Cox shares his disappointment with Hageman’s effort and consistency. Cox forces Hageman to run sprints after practice to the point where you start to get the feeling that Hageman is on the verge of quitting. But we also get to see Cox’s praise (still mixed with a hint of constructive criticism) later in the episode after Hageman’s sack against the Tennessee Titans.
Roddy White opines to Steven Jackson on the cyclical nature of the league. White tells Jackson that during his first two or three years, he didn’t really care about football and was just having fun. Older veterans then told him then to not take his opportunities for granted. It was advice that White wasn’t mature enough to heed. Now, White is one of those older veterans trying to stress the exact same thing to the young guys of today.
We get to see the team’s equipment staff scramble to try and recover outdoor equipment in the midst of a heavy downpour, when the weather force the team to move practice indoors. If only the producers of Hard Knocks had played this song during the sequence, it would have made it much more entertaining. But even inside the team couldn’t avoid the weather as it caused a power outage in the indoor practice facility, halting things.
We bear witness to Matt Ryan’s Sports Illustrated cover photo shoot, and a bit of insecurity when comparing his physique to that of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Joe Hawley gets some spotlight with his “passionate” nature and frequency in which he involves himself in practice scrums. We also get to see what Hawley does in his off time, which includes relaxing in front of a pottery wheel.
“Relax and let the clay flow through your hands.”
Who knew “Joe Brawley” was so artistic and sensitive?
The episode of course features the Falcons improved preseason performance against the Titans. But follows it up immediately with showcasing the nearly dozen players that wound up getting cut the day after. We get to see each players’ reaction to their release, with some like quarterback Jeff Mathews being very stoic. That contrasts with safety Tyrell Johnson, who is especially appreciative of the opportunity and experience.
If you were curious how the Falcons make these tough decisions, we saw general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith sit alone in a room and come to a consensus on which players won’t be brought back for another week. Always tough to watch guys’ NFL hopes and dreams get dashed. The cold, harsh reality is that most of them won’t get another opportunity to make an NFL roster. But several, including Theo Agnew, still were able to put a positive spin on things and keep their eyes on the prize.
Bryan Cox sharing his movie taste was another highlight. Here are some of Cox’s favorites that he rattled off:
- Shallow Hal
- Ride Along
- Love and Basketball
- 21 Jump Street
- Anything by Adam Sandler
- Identity Thief
- Anything critics give three stars
Cox finds Oscar-worthy features to be boring and considers Vanilla Sky, one of Osi Umenyiora’s favorites, to be “fluffy.”
Other highlights include:
- Devonta Freeman experiences his first pedicure and enjoys it.
- One young Falcon fan is now the front-runner for World’s Biggest Matt Ryan fan. If you missed his reaction to posing for a picture with Ryan and getting an autograph, it was something like this.
Next week will be the final episode of this season’s Hard Knocks, which is likely to focus on several players’ last attempts to make the team.