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HBO 'Hard Knocks' Episode 2 Review: Bryan Cox steals the show

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Bryan Cox was a superstar on Tuesday night.
Bryan Cox was a superstar on Tuesday night. (HBO)

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It's probably not a huge surprise, but the Falcons aren't the most dynamic of teams for Hard Knocks. It showed again with a pretty tame second episode. And that's fine, by the way, but it's not exactly what your casual viewer wants to see.

So, yeah, it was a fairly tame second episode in a row. Hard Knocks is still great, by the way, because it's fascinating getting behind the walls at training camp. HBO could always call an audible and just follow Bryan Cox around 24/7.

I was texting with my buddy Garrett about the show right when the cameras cut to Cox and other coaches chiefing stogies after work -- he aptly pointed out "this has promise." Oh did it.

No joke at all: I would watch a talk show involving the Falcons defensive line coach, cigars, whatever guests he wants and a roundtable. Someone make this happen.

Here are some indispensable pieces of wisdom he has to offer:

On naps/sleeping: "You could drink yourself to sleep. Go get your hands on some kind of everclear."

On trusting people: "A man without some kind of habit got a lot of skeletons. Ain't no question. Somebody's buried in his basement, he got about three wives, serial killer ... got to have a vice."

On what to drink: "I don't want no Schlitz malt liquor. I want Bud Light. No self respecting person from East St. Louis or St. Louis metropolitan area can drink anything other than Budweiser."

He threatened to "slap the shit out of" any defensive lineman he catches in strip clubs in the preview for next week's episode, which should guarantee a boost in ratings.

Some other highlights/observations:

-- Pretty obvious the Falcons aren't exactly feeling great about their second-round pick Ra'Shede Hageman, right?

Cox was riding him well before he bruised his hand punching a teammate in the helmet during practice. After that incident? Cox was straight giving him the business.

"I need to see less class clown and more productiveness," Cox said. "You too cool for school. Everything's a joke to you."

Red flags abound.

-- Hageman's fighting in practice and resulting injury led Mike Smith to ban fighting from practice.

"We're going to be physical. We're going to be passionate," Smith said. "But we've got to be smart in everything we do."

Didn't really work out to well, outside of someone getting tossed during their practice with the Titans.

-- Has anyone loved Hard Knocks less than Matt Ryan? The Falcons quarterback is perfectly at ease with the cameras but it definitely feels like he'd prefer to be going about his business without them there. Understandable for a guy coming off a season where he got no credit for playing well under extreme duress.

-- For whatever reason it cracked me up that William Moore told the cameramen he bought his house because there was a big palm tree in the middle of a swimming pool. Respect the hell out of that in all of its ridiculous impracticality.

-- Meanwhile, Devonta Freeman scoping out his new apartment, what with its walk-in closet and tub that would house a full human being, almost came off as someone who spent the last few years going hungry under the iron fist of the NCAA.

-- Two weeks in and I can't tell if Mike Smith is trying to cuss more or cuss less because the cameras are there. It's like he realizes the cameras are on right before an f-bomb comes out during a meeting but doesn't want to censor himself. And then it comes off a little forced, even if it's probably totally legitimate.

-- Do you like talking about Ricardo Allen's Sweddy Balls? The rookie fifth-round pick got hit in the privates during practice and proceeded to have plenty to say about

"One of my balls was four times the size of the other one," Allen said. "Everyone's going to be like ... Ricardo ain't go no pebbles.

"Everyone's been calling me 'Big Balls.'"

HBO then immediately showed Allen going on a zipline with his ladyfriend. Because who doesn't strap themselves in a crotch harness -- while wearing a Hawaiian shirt no less! -- as soon as possible after injuring their testicles?

-- Said ladyfriend is Grace Quattrocki, currently in a dogfight with Megan Wheeler, Tyler Starr's fiance, for the annual "Rookie Girlfriend on 'Hard Knocks' Who Becomes a Temporary Internet Celebrity" Award.

We'll briefly give Wheeler the lead.

-- Speaking of stars, when is Roddy White going to emerge from his cocoon and become the beautiful social butterfly we see on Twitter? FLY, RODDY, FLY.

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