HARD KNOCKS, BABY: Episode 2 Recap

In the word’s of one of Detroit’s most famous native musicians, guess who’s back – back again. Hard Knocks has returned for more unfiltered footage in and out of Allen Park, as they document the Lions taking on their first preseason game, as well as more action out of training camp.

The Ascendance of Malcolm “Rodrigo” Rodriguez:
Sixth rounder? No problem for Oklahoma State LB Malcolm Rodriguez. Aster being nicknamed “Rodrigo”, seemingly because it’s close to his actual last name, the rookie has been ascending the depth chart, much to the chagrin of LBs coach Kelvin Sheppard. Sheppard gave the position group a long lecture on the fact that they were letting a sixth rounder who’s small for his position group outwork them all. Between his salsa last week and him absolutely destroying RBs and O-Lineman this week, Rodriguez is quickly becoming the breakout star of the show. Let’s hope he serves the same role in season.

St. Brown Squared:
Prepare for trouble, and make it double, because we don’t just get one St. Brown this week. This episode features an appearance from John Brown, two-time mr. Universe, former body builder, and father/trainer of Amon-Ra St. Brown. Despite some questionable hydration tactics, he offered his training mantra – train every muscle. Aside from a cameo from his brother, Chicago WR Equanimous St. Brown, we finally got the backstory behind Amon-Ra’s JUGS machine workout. His desire to be the best led him to do 202 reps every day – two more than one of his competitors.

David Blough – Husband, Friend, Backup QB:
This week we got an unprecedented look at one of training camp’s most important role players – backup QB David Blough. Blough took most of the QB snaps during the first preseason game against the Falcons, and the camera crew took the opportunity to shine a light on him during the episode. We got to see inside his marriage with Colombian Olympic Sprinter, Melissa Gonzalez, with footage shown of Blough and the team watching her compete last summer from the film room. With two pro athletes as parents, their kid is going to hit the genetics jackpot. There was also an emphasis on Blough’s play against Atlanta, which was overly solid with the exception of the last-minute fumble. One might think it was excessive to put so much emphasis on a small mistake anyone could have made, but this was the point that the game got away from the Lions, and the crew wanted to show that. Plus, after beating himself up on the sideline, Blough now has a chance for a redemptive arc this weekend versus Indianapolis.

Swift and Staley:
Once again, Asst. HC Duce Staley has found a way to get involved in a main storyline, this time with his protege, RB D’Andre Swift. Staley gives a long talking-head interview, interspersed with shots of him saying similar things to the coaching staff, explaining Swift’s athletic intangibles and abilities. His problem is his lack of confidence and belief that he is “the guy” for the team. Staley says, “I need (D’Andre) Swift to believe he’s the best every time he steps on the fucking field. I need him to know when he’s one-on-one—no matter if he’s running a route or he has the ball in his hands—no one can guard him or tackle him. I want him to go to Dan (Campbell) at halftime and go, ‘Coach, I want the ball.’ And he got it. It’s in there. Boy is special. And every day we go out there between those lines, he’s got to believe that. And I’ma try my hardest to get that shit out of him. Ain’t no try, I’m going to fucking get it out of him. Because he can be so special. I’ve been around some guys that’s been in space—the special ones—he got it.” Swift has recently said that his goal for the season is 1000 yards rushing, 1000 receiving, and that Staley has encouraged him to push through minor bumps and bruises. Whether his coaching tactics work is yet to be seen, but Staley’s not alone – every Lions fan wants Swift to be “the guy”.

Assorted Quotes of Awesomeness:
● “Dude, your trash talk sucks” – C Frank Ragnow

● “Those really accentuate your butt cheeks” – HC Dan Campbell

● “Oh, we’re drinking water now? What happened to your spit?” – John Brown (WR Amon-Ra St Brown’s father)

● “That’s so good. I’d kiss you right now if you weren’t breathing so hard” – HC Dan Campbell

● “I have a question for guys like Kevin Durant – when was the last time you did a calf raise?” – John Brown

● “You’re speaking without you’re f**king mouth” – HC Dan Campbell

● “Marcus Mariota?” – Mia Hutchinson (DE Aidan Hutchinson’s sister)

So that’s two weeks down, three weeks to go. I hope next week we can get in deep with some players on defense not named Rodriguez or Hutchinson. I’d love to get some candid answers from CB Jeff Okudah on his injury and recovery, or with Michael Brockers on the transition from Los Angeles to Detroit last season. Seeing other rookies, like S Kirby Joseph or DE Josh Paschal, would also be nice. Check back next week for Part Three, and in the meantime, in the words of John Brown, do some calf raises.
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