Hard Knocks 2016: Night 1
In March HBO announced they would be back for an 11th season of the sports documentary series Hard Knocks. The series follows an NFL team through the ups-and-downs of training camp. This year HBO will be following an NFC West team for the first time. That team is the Los Angeles Rams.
The Rams make for a compelling story line this year since they are moving back to Los Angeles, from St. Louis, after 22 years. They also had the number one pick in the draft this year, after trading up from 15, and selected a local California kid, Jared Goff. Los Angeles is hoping Goff is the franchise quarterback to take them into a new future. No pressure at all.
Hard Knocks is also compelling because it shows some of the personalities on the featured team. Some funny, some outspoken, some quiet, and some that we end up saying goodbye to by series end. We see the struggle of rookies trying to make the squad, and the struggles of guys who have been around awhile, and looking for their first big opportunity. New, underrated heroes often emerge from the spotlight of this series. One of the most anticipated aspects of the debut show each year is…who will it be this year?
The answer to the struggling rookie trying to make it question in the first episode is without a doubt Jared Goff. He started off really poorly. So poorly he had trouble even calling out the plays. The complexity of the commands was something Goff was simply not use to. Once figuring out the huddle, he had to step aside and practice receiving snaps from center. There was at least four fumbled snaps from the few early practice highlights shown. Once he got the hang of the snap, he started throwing it to the defense. It was looking like the Rams got themselves a 25 million dollar backup for Case Keenum. By the end of the episode, Goff was making some impressive throws, albeit in practice, and thanks to some overtime help from Kenny Britt.
The answer to the outspoken player question, and the underrated hero question, is Todd Gurley. Not that he is going underrated by many defenses, or fantasy football players this year, but his leap from year one to year two is on track to be heroic. He has the skills, and the mouth, to be one of the biggest leaders on the team in just his second year as a pro.
The guy that looks to emerge from this Hard Knocks series as finally being a household name is Aaron Donald. The third year defensive end looks to be the best athlete on the team, and draws the highest praises from his peers. Not only his peers, the legendary Mike Singletary was quoted in episode one as saying, “I don’t think I have ever seen a kid like 99. I’ve never seen a kid like him.”. He also showed off his ping pong skills against some of the kids at UC Irvine.
We also saw the no nonsense side of head coach Jeff Fisher. He cut a player for breaking a dorm rule just once. We also learned in episode one that coach Fisher expects his Rams to be an 11-5 team this year. Fisher said they have too much talent to be a 7-9 team, and that they need to cut out the 7-9 (expletive)!
The next episode teaser shows things getting heated between Rams players as jobs are on the line. We will also finally see some real game action as we will see highlights from the Rams first preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys. The two will play Saturday night in the L.A. Coliseum.
Now that the introductions are over, get ready for the intensity to pick up. Jobs will be won, jobs will be lost, players will get cut. Hard Knocks 2016 from Los Angeles is just getting started.
Brandon Reid covers the NFL for MyFantasySportsTalk.com | Follow him on Twitter @New_Breid
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