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22 Takeaways from Hard Knocks with the Los Angeles Rams

Episode 2

Hard Knocks is back on HBO, featuring the newly relocated Los Angeles Rams. It’s been 22 years since the Rams have been in LA, so each week I’m going to list 22 things I took away from each episode. Let’s get started.

  1. We start with highlights from the Rams’ scrimmage. Goff and Gurley looked good, Mike Waufle and Gregg Williams cussing up a storm, and of course, our first skirmishes of the season. Nothing says football’s back like tempers flaring in full pads.
  2. The scene where the equipment guys are putting the ram’s horn stickers on the players’ helmets may seem like just another scene, but let me tell you, putting those stickers on football helmets is no walk in the park. I remember in high school having to put the stickers on our helmets ourselves and it was a mess. Air bubbles, rips, crooked angles, poor placements, you name it, we had it. Big ups to those equipment guys for making those stickers look so perfect.
  3. William Hayes believes in mermaids, and is excited to be in LA now because he’s closer to them. Apparently, this isn’t a new philosophy either. And if that isn’t weird enough, despite believing in mermaids, Hayes doesn’t believe in dinosaurs.
  4. I forgot that Case Keemun is the NCAA leader in completions, yards, and TDs. All the bad football in Houston paired with the hype around Goff is overshadowing that Case Keenum is still pretty good at football.
  5. Sean Mannion asked Jared Goff if he could hit the crossbar of the uprights from about 20 yards out. Goff replied saying that he couldn’t, and then challenged Mannion to do it instead for $100. Mannion proceeded to nail the center of the crossbar on the first throw. Moral of the story: if you’re a rookie, don’t challenge a vet to do something that he does for a living. Especially for $100.
  6. Jon Gruden’s in the house! It’s always a good time when Coach Gruden is around. I love that guy.
  7. Todd Gurley’s scooter thing is a thing of beauty.
  8. Literally right after Jeff Fisher lectures the players about being careful on their forms of transportation around campus, Kenny Britt and Brian Quick flip and roll over in their Warthog looking cart. Luckily, no one was hurt and we can all laugh about the incident, but the Rams narrowly escaped losing two of their best receivers on an already depleted receiver depth chart.
  9. I can’t be the only one who thought they were talking about TJ McDonald’s kids the way they built up that lead-in. And I also can’t be the only one who was slightly more excited when it turned out they were talking about his dogs. That’s what you call good directing.
  10. They played L.A. by Murs during a practice montage. It’s cool to see HBO use a classic song by a legendary LA emcee.
  11. Tavon Austin’s custom draft day socks are both ridiculously awesome and awesomely ridiculous.
  12. Jeff Fisher described Tavon Austin’s personality as, “two speeds: one is fast and the other is sleep.” If that isn’t a perfect summation of who Tavon Austin is, both on and off the field, then I don’t know what is.
  13. Special Teams Coordinator, John Fassel, introduced a new game to the team that tests a player’s grip strength. The rules are simple. Two players use one hand to hold opposite ends of a football and when the whistle blows, you try to pull the ball away, holding the football. It was a fun way to keep the competitive juices flowing, and the your 2016 Grip Strength Champion is rookie wide receiver Duke Williams.
  14. This week, we were introduced to the MVP robotic tackling dummies. In an attempt to help prevent injuries, the Rams are turning to these robotic tackling dummies to use in live-hitting drills. These things look awesome and are slowly working their way into the mainstream of the NFL. The future really is now, and these are living proof.
  15. Jeff Fisher’s explanation of how training camp has changed over the years is something that I hope they touch on more throughout the series. The Ringer’s Kevin Clark has an excellent article about this topic and breaks it down WAY better than I ever could.
  16. If you don’t think a pool full of extremely large men in speedos using floaties and bright pink pool noodles is hilarious, then you might have a heart made of stone.
  17. Rookie safety Brian Randolph has always worn #37, except for this year. And he’s willing to help teammate Jordan Lomax make the $10,000 down payment for a Dodge Challenger. Players paying up for their favorite numbers is by no means a new thing, but this just reinforces how superstitious some of the world’s best athletes really are.
  18. “NAF”= Non Athletic Fuck. NAF is a term used when a player does something non-athletic, like slipping, going slow, etc., that makes you want to yell out “fuck”. I have never heard of the term “NAF” before, but it is already a new and highly coveted term in my vocabulary.
  19. #FatArmFriday is my new motivation at the gym.
  20. Last week, Eric Kush introduced us to his very bro-tastic collection of tank tops. This week, he cemented his legacy of all-time bro status by introducing us to his truck, #Kushzilla. Never change, Eric Kush.
  21. Jeff fishers way of lining up for the national anthem is very specific and very noble. It’s very important to him that his players and staff pay the proper respect to those who serve and have served our country and allow them to play the game that they all love. Big ups to Jeff Fisher for this.
  22. The Rams’ first preseason game was nothing short of a success. In front of a packed house, the Rams’ walked out of the Coliseum with a win thanks to a second half comeback, lead by Sean Mannion and Nelson Spruce, and the defense who shutout the Cowboys in the second half.

The second episode of Hard Knocks had a lot more action, thanks in part to the first preseason game. But the first cuts of training camp are next week, so things are just getting started.