Bengals 'Hard Knocks' 2013: Episode one recap

By John Breech | CBSSports.com

Welcome to the Hard Knocks: Cincinnati Bengals, episode one recap.

If you missed the headline of this post or skipped the first sentence for some reason: this is a recap. That means if you didn't watch episode one of Hard Knocks, this recap is going to ruin it for you. It's going to spoil everything and you'll probably be so mad that you never read any recap ever again. Or watch HBO ever again. Or tune into a Bengals game ever again.

Please keep that in mind if you plan to keep reading.

Alright, now with that out of the way, lets get this thing started.

Why the Bengals are my new favorite team to win the Super Bowl

They run the Oklahoma drill.

The Oklahoma drill: Andy Dalton will take a snap and two players will kill each other. (HBO)
The Oklahoma drill: Andy Dalton will take a snap and two players will kill each other. (HBO)

Nothing toughens a team up faster than two players beating the living crap out of each other, "We don't do that much live contact in an NFL practice, so I think guys get excited for that." coach Marvin Lewis said. "If guys have gotten into a fight, I'll make sure those two have a chance to go at each other."

Sure, the Bengals haven't won a playoff game since January 1991, but that doesn't mean we can't crown them Super Bowl favorites because of one well run Oklahoma drill, right?

Why you should bet all your money against the Bengals to win the Super Bowl -- but remember, only bet your money in Las Vegas because it's not legal to bet anywhere else

The Bengals are only one horrible driver in Cincinnati away from a potentially bad season. As you can see in the video below, the team has to cross the street to get to practice. That seems dangerous.

Let's not forget about AJ Green. Green's the Bengals entire offense -- well, not technically, there are 10 other players and the line has to block and the quarterback has to throw it to him, but he is.

Marvin Lewis isn't concerned with Green's knee injury, which the Hard Knocks crew got good footage of, "He just twisted himself, he just did one of A.J.'s contortions," Lewis said.

Why Giovani Bernard is my new favorite player

We can probably all agree that it's pretty much impossible to hate a professional football player who drives his girlfriend's mom's minivan, "If something has automatic doors and it's push to open, that's perfect with me," Bernard said of his sweet ride.

According to running backs coach Hue Jackson, minivans mean marriage. "Coach Jackson said I'll probably be getting married to my girlfriend, just because I'm borrowing her mom's van," Bernard said. "That's a promise ring I guess you could say."

Bernard's going to play a lot this season, "We didn't draft him to be a backup, we drafted him to play a lot," Gruden.

But he wasn't exactly in football shape when camp started, "There's football condition and workout condition, I'm not in football condition right now. You need about a week," Bernard said.

Bernard (5-9, 208) also got into it with linebacker Vontaze Burfict (6-1, 255).

"Don't get in a fight with Burfict, he'll kick your ass," Gruden told Bernard.

"That's OK, it's only going to make me tough," Bernard said.

He drives a minivan and picks fights with bigger people, what is there not to like?

Buy your Bernard jerseys now.

James Harrison is all business all the time

James Harrison [bottom left] apparently doesn't feel the need to make friends. (HBO)
James Harrison [bottom left] apparently doesn't feel the need to make friends. (HBO)

One of the reasons the Bengals brought in free agent linebacker James Harrison is because of his killer instinct. Harrison's only instinct is to literally destroy everything he sees on a football field.

During one segment, Gruden had to tell Harrison that there's no hitting Green in practice, "We don't touch the merchandise ever," Gruden. Harrison did not take that lightly.

"The merchandise is going to get touched," Harrison said. "I'm not going to kill him, but I'm not going to let him get the job done."

The two went back and forth until Gruden decided that it was probably in his best interest to just agree with Harrison and walk away.

Oh and don't think that Harrison's seek and destroy attitude is just limited to the football field. "We took him bowling and he said he was going to kick someone's ass today," Marvin Lewis said. "That's the way he goes through life."

Why you should want a red-headed quarterback on your team

That collective sigh you heard across the country at about 10:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday came from married women who were watching Hard Knocks. Dalton, who's married, doesn't want to break or lose his wedding ring when he's playing, so he wears a rubber wedding ring when he's on the field. Dalton is determined to prove he's married.

"It's for people who are active so they don't have to mess up their actual wedding ring," Dalton said. "I like it, I think it's a cool look and I think other guys on the team like it."

Or maybe they don't like it. At all. Gruden would rather see Dalton go ringless. "I was hoping that when the uniform guy came and said what you can and can't wear, I was hoping rubber rings would be part of the 'can't wear,'" Gruden said. "Unfortunately, he's allowed to wear it."

Geno Atkins walks like a duck

Geno Atkins made some new friends after throwing out the first pitch at a Reds game. (HBO)
Geno Atkins made some new friends after throwing out the first pitch at a Reds game. (HBO)

"He's not tall, he walks like a duck, you wouldn't pick him out of a lineup to be an NFL defensive tackle."

That's how Bengals owner Mike Brown describes Atkins. So basically, a guy that walks like a duck is one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. That can't make the defensive tackles that don't walk like ducks feel too good about themselves.

One person who's not afraid of Atkins is tight end Jermaine Gresham. Gresham made a specific request before the Oklahoma drill started, "Geno Atkins, that's who I want, I'm going to call Geno Atkins out."

Gresham got the best of Atkins during the Oklahoma drill, but only because he jumped offsides. Atkins made sure Gresham admitted it on camera. "I cheated today in Oklahoma drill," Gresham said. "But you all watched the film, you saw what happened, you saw that finish."

"You can go back and watch the film, Geno got pancaked," Dalton said, describing the finish.

The 'I hope you weren't eating when you saw this part' part

Defensive tackle Larry Black dislocated his ankle in one of the uglier parts of Episode one. You can see exactly what happens to Black beginning at about the 3:30 mark on the video above.

"You never want to see one of your teammates go down like that," Atkins said. Black's injury occurred on July 31.

The video above also shows how seriously the NFL is taking concussions. Receiver Marvin Jones banged his head in practice and was told he was done for the day. Jones didn't want to be done for the day so he started a spirited argument with Bengals trainer Paul Sparling. Sparling won the argument. Jones was done for the day.

More Hard Knocks

If you want to catch up on Hard Knocks, or watch any of the past seasons, you can do it here at HBO's website. You'll only be able to watch if you have a subscription to HBO. If you don't have a subscription and you're thinking about getting one, here's better advice: use the money on a Giovani Bernard jersey.

Episode two of Hard Knocks airs on Aug. 13 at 10 p.m. ET.


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