Episode 2 of Hard Knocks aired tonight, and we got a fascinating look at Antonio Brown’s feet as well as the incredibly physical scrimmages the Raiders had with the Rams. Later in the episode we got to hear what Jon Gruden sounds like during a game, and let’s just say I doubt the networks will be micing him up anytime soon.
The first thing we see in the episode is the feet of the Raiders’ star receiver (and they’re absolutely disgusting), and we finally get some insight as to how all this happened. A few weeks ago, Brown traveled to Paris to work out in Paris with Rugby team Racing 92, as I wrote about here. Following that workout, Brown apparently went for some cryotherapy, and when he came out he noticed his feet were burning. Over the next day, they swelled up and blistered, and since then he’s been trying to let them heal. The fact that he was able to practice for that one day in camp is, frankly, a minor miracle. We see his trainer saying that the new skin was looking fine, so it doesn’t seem like Brown will miss any significant time and should be ready for the regular season.
In a team meeting after the first week of camp, Jon Gruden demanded better execution, with the type of language that makes one think he’s very serious about it. Gruden comes off as an affable guy, but he has his limits as to what he will put up with. He didn’t get the kind of execution he was looking for during the first day of Rams scrimmages, and the HBO editing job made it very clear that the Raiders looked like garbage. However, on the second day, the Raiders put up a vastly superior performance, and clips of them fighting with the Rams were set to the 1988 Metallica classic, ‘Blackened’.
Richie Incognito was the voice of sanity in all this, telling his teammates after the brawl, “You know what I learned in counseling? Just count to 10. You have to love yourself first.” Wise words indeed, Richie.
Defensive line coach Brentson Bucker has stood out during the show for the way he’s been crafting the defensive line, and he really tore them a new rear end during the scrimmages. That seemed to get them in line for the game against the Rams, where they performed admirably and shut down the Rams offense. Unfortunately, defensive end Maxx Crosby broke his hand trying to punch a ball out of the grasp of a Rams ballcarrier, but got a cast and came back into the game. That kind of toughness and mental fortitude means major brownie points with the coaching staff.
Brown’s absence meant opportunities for the other receivers, and Keelan Doss from UC Davis has done his best to step up. Though he’s dropped a few passes in practice, he scored a touchdown in the game in front of his hometown crowd, and Gruden laid into Nate Peterman for missing a wide-open Doss on a deep route. Even though Doss wasn’t thrown at much, he was consistently open and that will be noticed. Doss could well make this team, especially if he keeps up the production in the coming preseason games.
The episode ended with Antonio Brown returning to camp, which happened earlier today, so props to HBO for editing that scene in on such short notice. Next week should delve more deeply into Helmetgate, and I can’t wait.