Hard Knocks, Episode 3: Rams set stage for tough roster decisions

In the third episode of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Los Angeles Rams, sadness takes center stage as one player is faced with a family death and another must comfort his sobbing young daughter. 
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As the timeline generally goes with this show, Episode 3 of Hard Knocks is when one realizes that there are only two shows left after this one, which means it’s time to really establish those narratives and get everyone attached to the certain intriguing rookies/players who may or may not be cut. This is what the show has always been the best at, finding those narratives, presenting them in powerful ways, and getting you invested enough to feel a pang of sadness when they’re told that coach Fisher wants to see you in his office, bring your playbook. Those cuts didn’t happen yet, but after a first couple of weeks of relatively lighthearted introductory fare, this episode set-the-stage for those decisions to unfold.

In a particularly heavy turn, the second scene of this week’s episode shows one of those rookies, WR Paul McRoberts, finding out his stepbrother was killed. He tells Jeff Fisher he saw the news on Facebook, that no one in his family called him to let him know. He discusses his grieving process with Fisher and some other coaches, and it then immediately moves into how, while coping with the loss, he must also attempt to impress enough to make the team.

Meanwhile receiver Austin Hill’s pull-at-the-heartstrings story comes in the form of his relationship with his very cute daughter Rielyn. The two run around the practice field together while a sad indie song plays, and Rielyn starts sobbing when she has to leave practice. Later, during the Rams’ preseason game against the Chiefs, as his daughter and girlfriend look on, Hill doesn’t get one target thrown his way all night.

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As for the players who aren’t worrying about roster spots, the star of this week was Alec Ogletree, who is dubbed the “dad of the defense,” has a conversation with Mike Singletary where he’s told he could be “one of the best to ever play the game” (more on that later), and then gets a scene where he Facetimes with his adorable infant baby.

More notes from the third episode:

William Hayes Mermaid Update!:  Everybody’s favorite dinosaur truther goes to Disneyland! He proceeds to ride the teacups with his family and take over half of the cup (“I should’ve gotten my own cup then”), and later loses his mind on a rollercoaster with Akeem Ayers, all while wearing a Disneyland tanktop and Mickey Mouse ears. No scenes of him and Ariel, though.

Goff update: Not a ton of screen time for the first-round pick this week, but he does get his first touchdown throw as a Ram in the preseason game against the Chiefs to Malcolm Brown. Meanwhile, we get a glimpse into Case Keenum’s life, including a breakfast scene of his wife making him eggs while quizzing him on the names of plays.

Kush Tank Top Update: In the most important news of the night, resident tank expert Eric Kush chooses between two new shirt designs, one that says ‘RAMS: DO YOU EVEN” (“it’s like I’m getting ready to lift,” is his comment on that) and one that says “2016 RAMERICA.” He gets both designs and then delivers them to the locker room. In case you’re curious, Greg Robinson turns down the offer of his tank when they’re handed out, while Goff chooses a “stringer one” in the “smallest size” they have, and Todd Gurley says he’s big fan of the RAMERICA option.

We also get some insight on Kush’s family, and hear from his wife, who tries to stay as positive as possible as she talks about how they’ve moved all around over the last few years and are hoping this time it works out.

Live from Irvine: Rams bringing Jared Goff along carefully under bright spotlight

Dramatic Slow Motion Montage of the week: Defensive assistant Singletary is the big coaching presence of this episode. There’s a shot of him doing pushups, there’s a shot of him glaring at players, and there’s a scene of him telling Alec Ogletree “you could be one of the best to ever play the game. You have it in you in this body, the ability to be an off the carts player. But you’re not using it. And it pisses me off, man. You’re not using it.”

Celebrity sightings: Slow day on that L.A. celebrity train this week. Only one of note was C.C. Sabathia, who seemed to have a not-that-interesting interaction with Jeff Fisher.