The second episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” was not as exciting as week one’s show. That’s not because the second program was bad, but the first show was just outstanding.
Here are the highlights of what happened for week two of the show:
1. The show started with the release of Roosevelt Nix-Jones. The Falcons had to open a roster spot and released Nix-Jones, much to the surprise of his teammates. It was an early release to show on the program, which has historically enjoyed showing young players getting the call to bring their playbook to see the coach.
2. Falcons’ general manager Thomas Dimitroff was shown riding through the woods in Aspen, Colorado with Lance Armstrong. It’s not news that Dimitroff rides a bike. But it was interesting to see how aggressive he is riding through the crowded woods out west.
3. Mike Smith warned his players before the scrimmage with Tennessee that no fights would be tolerated. “Listen up. The practice against the Titans… there will be no fighting. If there is, your ass is off the field. You’re going to get fined and your ass is going to the locker room. If somebody takes a swing, don’t retaliate.” Well, Joe Hawley got into a fight and was kicked out of practice. But Smith was later happy that Hawley took up for his teammate and it was a somewhat necessary fight.
He told the team, “If somebody is taking advantage of your teammate, and you go to his defense and you send a message to the guy that you’re playing against, that’s a ****ing good penalty. I’m tired, and you guys should be tired of it as well… talking about ‘the Falcons were soft. The Falcons aren’t tough.’ Bull****. We are a physical football team. There’s going to be altercations. We want to be the biggest bunch of pric*** in terms as making it hard for our opponent. All day long.”
That shows you how the mindset is adjusting in Flowery Branch. They want players to fight against the belief that the Falcons were soft last season, so you can only imagine that Smith has repeated that kind of rant several times since practice started a few weeks ago.
4. Terry Robiske, Atlanta’s wide receivers coach, was on camera talking to a coach for the Titans and was praising how Roddy White is “dying to win a Super Bowl.”
5. Matt Ryan showed tremendous leadership by walking into a meeting with Robiski’s receivers. He wanted to show Harry Douglas how he was correct about a certain route during the scrimmage. The scene showed how great Ryan can be by giving credit to his wide receiver.
6. Sean Weatherspoon, out for the season with a ruptured Achilles’ Tendon, also showed leadership by volunteering to help the rookie linebackers – something that Mike Smith approved. Prince Shembo, the fourth round pick out of Notre Dame, was the only one to take advantage of Weatherspoon’s offer. It’s obvious Shembo wants to be a leader on the defense, and later in the show the coaches showed confidence in Shembo by letting call the plays on defense in the second half against the Dolphins.
7. The show had cameras follow several rookies around as they visited the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta. Ra’Shede Hageman and Marquis Spruill had fun as they actually swam with some sharks.
8. You want team chemistry? Look no further than the relationship between wide receiver Roddy White and safety William Moore. They constantly give each other hell, and in one scene after a fight had broken out White runs over and jumps on Moore like he was attacking him. Moore thought about throwing a punch, but thankfully held off until White could reveal himself. The two obviously have fun on the field, but they take care of business when necessary.
9. Rookie Ricardo Allen got hit in the balls in one of the OTAs and one got four times bigger than normal. Ouch. It was not the most pleasant part of the show.
10. There is no doubt the physicality is there. This team wants to be tougher, and from the practice fights to the play against the Dolphins, the Falcons showed it on Tuesday’s show on HBO.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
So what happened in week one of HBO's Hard Knocks…