HBO's newest season of their "Hard Knocks" franchise with the Miami Dolphins was able to live up to it's namesake right out of the gate. After an opening scene about the Dolphins rebuilding and showing their locker room being redone, the show introduced undrafted rookie offensive lineman Derrick Dennis. Naturally, Dennis was excited about his first NFL training camp, but unbeknownst to him the team had already decided he was going to be cut.
The show gives great insight into the inner workings of an NFL franchise and the harsh reality of the business. With Dennis, who had dreams of playing the NFL, he was notified of his release after running the team's conditioning test. Dennis had talked about all the work he put in during the break because he didn't want to be that guy who was out of shape. Dennis was released to make room for NFL veteran offensive lineman Eric Steinbach.
Immediately after, you get a good look at Chad Johnson, the veteran wide receiver the Dolphins signed right before training camp. Johnson peeks his head in the door during a coaches meeting, as head coach Joe Philbin and his staff are preparing for the next day of practice. Johnson waltzes into the room and pulls up a chair, stating that his wife won't allow him to come home until training camp is over. After placating Johnson for a bit, Philbin gets the point across that he needs to leave.
The show then gives a nice look into the mindset of Philbin and what he expects out of practice. You can see the pace of practice, which is at blistering speed. Some of the players were surprised at the pace of the practice, which allowed some players to shine but it also wore out some players like veteran cornerback Vontae Davis, who drew some criticism from his coaches for taking breaks and often requesting to use the restroom. "Hell I'm 51, I got to go every hour and I don't even go," Philbin quipped in a meeting. It also was tough for players like quarterback David Garrard to get acclimated to the pace and urgency of practice.
You also get a great inside look into the contract negotiations of a first-round pick and team, as quarterback Ryan Tannehill was missing practices trying to get a deal negotiated. Philbin and Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland talked often about the status of Tannehill's deal, even showing a clip of Ireland noting the rookie is just trying to get the best deal for himself, but how he also wanted him in camp. Tannehill's absence allowed quarterbacks Matt Moore and David Garrard to get more reps in practice, but it also had some of the other rookies asking each other each day if Tannehill would show up.
The team eventually gets Tannehill signed and he jumps right into the team's playbook after meeting late one night with head coach Joe Philbin. In his first practice, the coaches seemed to be impressed with Tannehill as the head coach muttered to offensive coordinator and Tannehill's former college head coach Mike Shurman, that Tannehill threw the ball very well.
The episode finished up with the Dolphins scrimmage as first-round pick put on a bit of a show in front of his coaches and teammates. "People's Choice" as Garrard has dubbed him, is seemingly well ahead of where the coaches expected at this point. Philbin entered the quarterbacks meeting after the scrimmage to notify the group that he has to release a depth chart, per NFL rules, but reiterated that the competition is still very open and it means absolutely nothing.
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