'Hard Knocks' Episode 3 Review: Harsh reality of Sam Baker injury

'Hard Knocks' offered a look behind Sam Baker's injury.
'Hard Knocks' offered a look behind Sam Baker's injury. (USATSI)

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When offensive tackle Sam Baker tore his patella tendon on Saturday night, it was obviously a huge blow to the Falcons. We all naturally shifted into analysis mode. What does it mean for the Falcons? Can Jake Matthews play left tackle? Will Matt Ryan have sufficient protection in 2014?

Obviously everyone felt bad for Baker but no one looking at the injury from a 30,000 foot view stopped to think about he felt. Seeing his reaction -- and that of his teammates -- on Hard Knocks tells a different story of a season-ending injury.

We finally got a look at Baker's injury -- he hyper-extended his knee stepping backwards while blocking. The telecast cut it off at the time, but HBO offered a close up via All-22 footage of the preseason game.

Hard Knocks also provided a sound byte inside the huddle as Baker was being carted off.

"F---, man," one Falcons player said.

Back in the locker room, Baker can't even believe the injury is as bad as he's told.

"I'm worried you may have ruptured your patella tendon," Dr. Spero Karas, the team physician tells Baker.

"Wouldn't I have known?"

Karas goes into the breakdown of the x-rays (on his phone no less) and giving Baker the skinny and setting him up to move forward.

"I hope my wife isn't watching," an emotional Baker said. "Because she'll freak out."

Life moves on in the NFL because that's how this business works. Next man up, etc. But it doesn't diminish the difficulty of the injury for the player in question. Tuesday night was a good reminder of that. 

-- Bryan Cox stole the show. Again. We were promised something about him threatening to slap dudes who went to the strip club. What we got was even better: Cox was showing defensive linemen pictures of younger daughters and threatening them if they ever got near the girls.

PRO TIP: Do not mess with Bryan Cox's daughters.

Even the 30-year-old one. When the Falcons players saw her, they wanted to know how old Cox was.

"46," Cox replied. "I told you I started f---ing when I was 10."

-- Bonus points for Mike Tice telling Cox the story about walking around the hotel and running into a big branch. "I bet I wouldn't have run into it if I was drinking." 

-- The opener showed Rookie Marquis Spruill having his ACL operated on. No one told us we were signing up for the Miracle of Life

-- The normal calm-sounding Matt Ryan was uncorking F-bombs when he was playing and unaware he was being filmed. Not that there's anything wrong with a swear word. It was just funny to hear. Ryan showed his sweet side too, tossing a pass to a kid of a Texans employee who grew up in Boston and went to all of Ryan's games at BC.

Ryan actually overthrew him a bit, but the kid made a hell of a catch.

Twitter answered the bell perfectly, as always.

-- T.J. Yates is a damn hero. In Houston. 

Yates has a playoff win for the Texans, so when he showed back up he was greeted by loud "TEE-JAY! TEE-JAY!" cheers from the fans and plenty of salutations from his former teammates. Including a really weird greeting he and Ryan Fitzpatrick have:

"Last time I could see your lip," Yates said of Fitzpatrick's beard.

Yates also admitted "my head's been spinning a little bit" (and he had a weird/funny moment on the camera where he was trying to learn and practice the Falcons playbook by himself in the film room), but Mike Smith and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter sounded optimistic about the backup's potential. 

The game against Houston wasn't, um, quite as good. Yates ended up slinging F-bombs himself after tossing some picks.

-- Jake Matthews got thrown in the freaking fire at practice against the Texans, going head-to-head with J.J. Watt for a big portion of practice. He handled himself pretty well considering he was going against the best defensive player in football, he's a rookie and he was getting choked at times.

"He's choking you out," Tice said during a film review. "It's like Monday Night Raw." 


CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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