If you love the Atlanta Falcons, you had to love watching HBO's season premiere of Hard Knocks. It was a behind-the-scenes look like we've never had at Flowery Branch.
The show started off with a few stories, like Bear Pascoe on his far, Steven Jackson showcasing his art work, Tyler Starr with his fiance and Harry Douglas fighting with his wife over packing for training camp.
Hard Knocks is a reality show, so to believe they would ignore Kroy Biermann's wife would have been silly. They had Kim Zolciak on camera, and she ate up every minute of it as she usually does.
They showed the rookies reporting to camp and the packet of information they are given to know what to do and where to go.
Jake Matthews visited head coach Mike Smith's office and Smith said, "You're going to be the leader of this group - the younger guys." Something tells me that's a responsibility Matthews will enjoy and take seriously.
Running back Devonta Freeman admitted he was missing home, just a little. But Smith told him, "You've got to go to work."
One of Smith's best lines of the show was when Starr walked in wearing a safari hat. "Where did you get that damn hat?" Smith asked. It must have been effective, since "Tyler Starr's Hat" became a twitter handle after the show.
There is a great chance we're going to come off liking Smith even more than we might already. He's personable and seems real, compared to when some coaches know the camera is on and flip a switch. You can tell Smith rather not be on camera, but he's dealing with it professionally.
There was a good scene with Jackson talking to the running backs about working as a group. That was encouraging.
It did not take long before the fights broke out. Biermann and Matthews went at it first. Biermann told Smith he was going to "take no ****." Smith agreed and you could tell he wasn't too disappointed that the players were going at it.
Offensive line coach Mike Tice told Biermann, "Hey 71 your *** is getting kicked all ****ing camp."
Smith had the players take pictures of their bodies as they left last season and then took a new photo to compare that to for this year. It was a good exercise, as the players saw who had worked hard over the offseason.
Smith then had a quick quote on a sit down where he said, "I think I lost my way a little bit, and I take full responsibility for it." It was interesting that he'd take the blame for the 4-12 season. He then mentioned the code word of training camp: "Physicality."
The Falcons made two great hires with Tice and defensive line coach Bryan Cox. They are making these players tougher, if with nothing else just with an attitude.
"No wonder why I'm here" was a funny line by Tice when he looked at the life of fire in one of the practices.
"We take no ****," Tice said.
Smith ran into the huddle when Stansley Maponga
and Gabe Cirimi went at it. "We're not getting any better doing that ****.".
Then it was the Jacques Smith to put on a show. They had Smith going up against Joe Hawley and then Ryan Schraeder.
"I'm not backing down from nobody," Smith said. And he is undoubtedly getting the coaches' attention with his physicality.
HBO then went into the injury to Steven Jackson. "It'll be a couple of weeks," Smith said to a member of his coaching staff. Both were surprised by that news.
Then William Moore's house was featured, and oh what a house it is! Think of a palm tree in the middle of an atrium at a big hotel. Was it gaudy? Yes. But he's rich and has every right to spend his money his way. If that makes him happy, so be it.
Then poor ole Donte Rumph got picked on a little bit, as Cox labeled him 'cupcake.' It seems to be motivating Rumph to have a good camp.
The Peria Jerry story was bizarre. Smith was visibly surprised when Jerry told him he was retiring. Smith tried to let Jerry make sure, but Jerry had made up his mind.
Why is Jerry really retiring? Who knows. It was bizarre.
They had the proverbial "rookies get to sing and embarrass themselves" segment, with several players like Jacob Pederson and Hageman taking the stage.
It was fun to see the interaction between Osi Umenyiora and Roddy White. They are definitely leaders of the roster.
Next week we'll see general manager Thomas Dimitroff featured. And it looks like the other fights will be on screen, which is not a surprise considering the built-in drama.
Again, if you love the Falcons, you loved this show. It was a great insight into the team and the potential roster.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at email@example.com.
Here's a recap of what happened on week two of HBO's Hard Knocks. …