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5 Takeaways from Hard Knocks: Episode 1

HBO’s acclaimed Hard Knocks is back for an eleventh season. Finally back in Los Angeles after over two decades out of town, it’s now the Rams’ turn to be the focus of NFL training camp. Check out 5 takeaways from the team, coaches and players in their Hollywood debut.

The rules are the rules?

In the NFL, discipline = key. On Hard Knocks, surprise cuts = ratings. We saw a bit of both last night, when head coach Jeff Fisher brutally cut sophomore wide receiver Deon Long for having a girl in his dorm room. It makes you wonder if the rules truly do apply to everyone. Long, who has yet to play a regular season snap in his career, was made an example of. Would Jared Goff suffer the same fate? Probably not. And speaking of the rookie…

He’s not the starter yet, but he’s sure being filmed like one

The Rams staff continues to parade around Case Keenum as the de facto starter, but everyone knows it won’t be long before Goff takes the reigns. That includes the Hard Knocks camera crew, who followed Goff around all week while Keenum was merely an afterthought in the final cut. Maybe Case just doesn’t have a TV-friendly personality. Jared, on the other hand, displayed charisma and charm paired with an eagerness to learn.

People don’t know Todd Gurley…yet

The defending Rookie of the Year will have to settle for being “that guy from the burger commercial” for now. Though #30 jerseys adorned every row of bleachers during Rams training sessions, Todd Gurley admitted he isn’t getting recognised on the street. In fairness, NFL players spend their entire career with their face covered. But with a second year as the face of the Rams offense, it won’t be long before Gurley becomes the man to watch in LA.

Don’t mess with Mike Waufle

Every season of Hard Knocks needs a resident badass coach. This year, it’s DL coach Mike Waufle. A former marine, his unwavering command of arguably the best position group in the NFL explains a heck of a lot. An all-business perfectionist, you won’t get any cutsie-poo anecdotes or “Macho Man” Randy Savage impressions from this guy. To paraphrase R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket: the D-line’s souls belong to God, but their butts belong to Waufle.

Jeff Fisher “isn’t going 7-9”

Coach Fisher is in on the joke. Only difference is, he isn’t laughing. The Rams haven’t posted a winning season since 2003. As the head coach since 2012, Fisher has been called the common thread tying together the Rams’ recent seasons of underperformance. Fisher called Deon Long’s shenanigans “7-9 bulls**t.” He claimed he’s not “going 7-9, 8-8…or even 10-6,” believing the team is “too talented” to set such meagre goals for itself. A glimpse of fire from a seemingly tepid man…time will tell if his words ring true.

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