America's Team is back, baby. Amid all kinds of Dak Prescott injury news and an unfolding 2021 preseason, the Cowboys returned to TV on Tuesday night for the second episode of this year's edition of "Hard Knocks." HBO's annual training camp series, which runs weekly through Sept. 7 with an inside look at the club's preparations for the new year, marks the third time Dallas has been featured on the show.
Who stood out in Tuesday's second episode? Who needs some work for Episode 3? Here are the winners and losers:
Winner: Ezekiel Elliott
The star running back didn't get a ton of airtime compared to Episode 1, when he was a focal point. But he's easily the most entertaining to watch, in large part because he doesn't take himself too seriously. Consider how he contrasts with Mike McCarthy; yes, the head coach has an entirely different job, but it's much more fun seeing Zeke giggling over sunflower seeds during the Cowboys' preseason game than McCarthy forcing the F-bomb into a toughen-up speech at camp. Thing is, Elliott's goofiness doesn't mean he's not invested, either; no one was more excited for preseason backups rattling off big plays than him.
Excited for the new Cowboys season? We are too! Follow along on the CBS Sports app and get the latest insights from Patrik Walker, who's on the ground in Dallas. Plus, get the latest Dak Prescott news, Ezekiel Elliott predictions, and much more from our team of experts. If you already have the app, you need to set the Cowboys as your favorite team for up-to-the-second news and analysis.
Loser: Micah Parsons
We keep coming back to the Penn State rookie, only to ever see him straight-faced or mildly irritated over preseason playing time. It's nice that Parson's mom is a loyal cheerleader, but even her presence hasn't given this No. 1 pick a deep or affecting storyline. Oh, and he apparently got schooled in chess by an awkward Ben DiNucci.
Winner: CeeDee Lamb
What little we finally got of Lamb was some of this season's best stuff: An off-field dedication to candles, like the Sweet Berry Peony in his camp dorm ("I'm high on smells," he quipped); and some of the acrobatic leaping catches that Cowboys fans and reporters have become accustomed to at camp. Lamb's emerging star power is real -- so much so that you would be excused if you forgot Amari Cooper was part of the team until a wordless cameo on the preseason sidelines. Let's hope we get more of CeeDee moving forward.
Loser: Cowboys coaches
Broadening this from "Mike McCarthy" so as not to pile on the head man. Look, Mike is probably a great guy, but in terms of reality-show material, well, it says something that Sean McVay's cameo during the Cowboys-Rams joint practice was the most exciting part of Episode 2's staff focus. At least McVay acted like a Jon Gruden incarnation. And then poor Aden Durde, the Cowboys' D-line coach who got spotlighted ... because he has a British accent? And not only that, but had to suffer through players' impressions of it? Good for Durde making it from London, but that whole segment was better suited for the kiddos. Bonus points for Dan Quinn acting like the Cowboys were in the divisional playoffs while overseeing preseason snaps from the booth.
Winner: Azur Kamara
Now here's a player profile that deserves more attention and already boasts some depth. Kamara, the 2020 undrafted Kansas pass rusher, is a former refugee who learned American football on the fly, and he didn't have a spotless "Hard Knocks" debut: After accidentally bumping backup quarterback Ben DiNucci in camp drills, he received the ire of every nearby coach. But his brief moment with family after the Cowboys' preseason game in Arizona was good stuff, as is his fight to prove he belongs.