We're going to be keeping weekly tabs on HBO's "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cleveland Browns" throughout the preseason. We'll be checking in to highlight which performers are rising and falling in the "Hard Knocks" ranks with each new episode. Which performers are rising to prominence? What storylines are garnering the most interest? Which highlights have us talking? Who's falling off?
1. Devon Cajuste (and his father)
Last week: Unranked
One of the best things about 'Hard Knocks' is that sometimes it introduces you to an underdog who you start rooting for when they otherwise would have been completely in your blindspot. On this week's episode, that guy was Devon Cajuste, a Browns tight end who is trying to find his place in the NFL. After going undrafted in 2016, Cajuste spent training camp with the 49ers but was cut in the final week of camp before moving on to the Packers' practice squad.
The Stanford alum is attempting to make his first NFL roster this year with the Browns, but even if that doesn't happen he'll still have comfort in knowing he stole the show on episode two of "Hard Knocks." A good chunk of the episode was spent on Cajuste's relationship with his father, who was visiting Devon at camp.
We quickly find out the father-son duo communicate primarily via whistling into their fingers -- some sort of family bird call that travels well enough to reach from the upper deck of an NFL stadium to field level.
The Cajuste storyline also serves as this episode's emotional crux. While going through a laundry list of his father's health issues, Devon finds out (on camera) that his dad recently suffered a third heart attack and nearly breaks down. It becomes clear pretty quick that Devon's father is his biggest inspiration in life, and pops calls his son "his best friend." It's a strong tug at the heartstrings.
Cajuste also gets strong consideration during the Browns' first preseason contest as he battles through a shoulder injury. He shows serious heart as he stays on the field despite being in literal screaming agony, making several plays in the process.
Episode two made sure viewers at home were invested in Cajuste, so he earns the top spot in this week's HKPR. Now we'll have to keep tabs on him moving forward and see if he has enough to make the 53-man cut.
2. Antonio Callaway
Last week: Unranked
Antonio Callaway took a starring role in episode two, though not for the reason he would've liked. In the days after being Florida who slipped in this year's draft due to off-the-field concerns -- decided not to tell anyone within the Browns organization., Callaway -- a rookie out of
He did an absolutely terrible job of playing it cool at practice the next day, as several people (players and coaches) came up to him and asked if he was doing OK -- to which he responded by basically acting like a deer in headlights. It was by far the most awkward scene of the season so far, so much so that I had to literally laugh and wonder out loud, "what the hell is wrong with this kid?"
Todd Haley to Jarvis Landry on Antonio Callaway: "Hey. You need to take that kid on. I don't care if he's f---ing living at your house. We can't have him f--- up. You've got all this passion ... Larry Fitzgerald would."— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) August 15, 2018
Ultimately, the organization found out about the incident. John Dorsey and Hue Jackson had a tense sit-down with Callaway, who said he wasn't smoking and that the weed was in his car when he had it shipped to him at training camp. Dorsey and Jackson seemed to be more concerned about Callaway telling the truth rather than the weed itself, and ultimately they decided to believe him -- with the caveat that Jackson would "have his ass" if he found out he was lying.
(It seems likely he was lying considering the police officer said he smelled weed when he pulled Callaway over. If the cop could smell it from a traffic stop, there's almost no way Callaway wouldn't have known there was weed somewhere in the car.)
Jackson forced Callaway to issue an awkward apology to the team during a meeting, but the real punishment came during the first preseason game. The rookie receiver was forced to play almost all of the Browns' offensive snaps during that game, running him ragged. He did, however, make decent lemonade out of those lemons, snagging three catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Callaway may have gotten off somewhat easy this week, but it'll be interesting to monitor how he handles the rest of camp -- and if there's any further punishment coming down the line.
3. These gloves
Last week: Unranked
These team gloves were a subject of hot debate on this week's episode. Browns players couldn't agree on the color, with several of them claiming that they were purple. My dudes, it's OK -- you can just say they're pink. They're definitely pink. This is the type of team fragility that leads to just one win in two seasons.
4. Todd Haley
Last week: Unranked
This was a fantastic episode for Todd Haley's personality. From telling Corey Coleman to "get some shoes that work," to interrogating and calling Antonio Callaway a "puppy dog" at practice, to ripping Carl Nassib for his name ("can you imagine seeing a little baby and being like, let's name him Carl? ... that seems like name you get later in life"), to having a legitimate professional discussion while upside down in the coach's office -- he was a scene-stealer this week.
5. Corey Coleman
Last week: Unranked
This week's episode opened with Coleman -- Cleveland's first-round pick from 2016 -- showing off his massive sneaker collection, then with clips of him struggling and getting chewed out at practice. We see video of him walking into Hue Jackson's office and demanding to know why he's playing on the second team before declaring, "if you don't want me to play, why don't y'all just trade me?"
Well, that was all we saw from Coleman this week because he was swiftly traded to the Buffalo Bills for a seventh-round pick. Sheesh.
It was a bit disappointing that we didn't get footage of Jackson and the front office deliberating over the idea of trading Coleman, but at least we were privy to the motivation behind the deal. It's clear the Browns are trying to enforce a culture change and Coleman's attitude wasn't going to fly. There's a chance we get a little more Coleman drama next week considering the Bills are next on Cleveland's preseason schedule.
6. Carl Nassib
Last week: No. 2
Nassib didn't nearly get as much play as he did last week, but he made his scenes count. His first appearance in this week's episode has him saying, "I'm getting dumber...I had to start reading s--t because I've noticed I was getting stupider. Stupider is a word, is it not?" Quite funny but also quite relatable, if we're being honest.
Also, it's always great when the guy who was giving out financial advice to several guys admits to being dim-witted just one week later. Nassib was actually called out by a teammate regarding the flaws in his compound interest lesson from the week prior, and Nassib got very defensive while also revealing that Tony Robbins is his hero.
Yeah, the guy is pretty weird, but he is absolutely electric on camera.
3) Carl Nassib: stop insulting the RULE OF 72! It’s simple, 72/your interest rate is the number of years it takes for your money to double. S&P has averaged 9.8% over the last 90 years, but if you miss the big up years it’s way less. I personally think assuming 7% is safer— Joe Thomas (@joethomas73) August 15, 2018
7. Gregg Williams
Last week: No. 7
We almost went a full episode without Gregg Williams threatening to kill somebody, but not this week! The defensive coordinator was thoroughly displeased with his squad's performance during the preseason opener and he absolutely ripped into them while in the locker room at halftime. Psycho Watch: Still a psycho.
On the bright side, he got some free throat lozenges, b---h.
8. Hue Jackson
Last week: No. 4
It wasn't the best week for Hue. Not only did he buy into Callaway's excuse despite some pretty strong holes in the logic, he also just looked lost and perplexed on the field for a majority of the episode. In fact, his best coaching move of the episode was actually the idea of Tyrod Taylor, who suggested installing a camera at practice in order to use the film to call players out on their laziness. If Tyrod doesn't work out at quarterback, maybe he should just coach the damn team.
Off the board: Jarvis Landry, Baker Mayfield's RV, Bob Wylie, John Dorsey's fashion sense, This guy eating an entire plate of mussels during the middle of a meeting