|The most compelling Hard Knocks storyline wasn't Ryan Tannehill, it was Joe Philbin having to cut Chad Johnson. (AP)|
We went into this season's Hard Knocks with low expectations. Outside of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill's development, we couldn't really think of any compelling storylines for the Dolphins heading into training camp. After all, they were 6-10 a year ago, promptly cleaned house, then spent the first part of the offseason chasing -- and failing to land -- Jeff Fisher and Peyton Manning.
Then the team signed Chad Johnson, the former Pro Bowl wideout who managed just 15 catches during a forgettable stint with the Patriots in 2011. He was supposed to return to his gum-flapping, big-play ways in Miami but that dream was cut short after he was arrested in August on domestic violence charges after allegedly head-butting his wife. We all watched with rapt attention as coach Joe Philbin cut him a few days later.
During the Hard Knocks finale Tuesday, HBO caught up with Johnson, out of football three weeks now, who was shown working out at a beach and later a boxing gym.
"The Dolphins, I let them down," Johnson said after a training session. "I messed up. I got to suffer the consequences -- I made that bed, I got to lay in it. So basically, I got to start all over. ...
"How did I even get to this point?" Johnson asked. "Somewhere along the way I lost focus. I lost something that I love -- I lost two things that I love," he corrected himself, presumably referring to football and his wife, Evelyn Lozada, "because of my immature actions. I'm gonna get both of those back one step at a time. ...
"I'm sure some opinions, some views on me might've changed because of the events that've happened but all I can do is say sorry," he continued. "I'm human and … I just gotta come back a little stronger."
Johnson was asked if he would see a football field anytime soon. "It depends," he said. "I know what I want to do. I know what somebody will get if I'm able to get that chance again, especially after getting knocked down like that."
What would a team get? "Chad Johnson," he said. "That f----r is good."
Philbin, meanwhile, said that he had no regrets about the Dolphins appearing on Hard Knocks, or the decision to to let HBO record his meeting with Johnson that resulted in the wideout's release.
"I felt bad for [Johnson]," the coach told NFL Network's Albert Breer. "He didn't want that out there necessarily. But, for example, we'd released Derek Dennis from Temple earlier, and that was in front of the cameras. I just didn't feel like it was right to treat Chad any different than someone like Derek Dennis. If you're going to do it in front of the cameras with other guys, you gotta do it with him. I just felt like it was the right thing to do, but it wasn't easy."
The Dolphins have one of the worst wide receiver corps in the NFL. If they don't want Johnson, he might have trouble finding work any time soon. But he seems both contrite and committed and if he does get another opportunity you get the sense he'll make the most of it.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and like us on Facebook. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.