Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hard Knocks is in the zone right now, with a cast of characters the football world has never quite seen before

By Conor Orr
August 22, 2018

Hue Jackson, concerned about the intensity of his practices, invited Jeff Gordon cosplayer and Nationwide jingle-maven Brad Paisley to speak with the boys after practice. Here’s the text of Paisley's oration:

“Alright no pressure. I’ve been a fan since third grade. I was a, uh, Brian Sipe fan. That’s how far back I go….

Go win some this year. I’m really rooting for you and I can’t wait to see what, ah, you do. So, win this for Cleveland. Go out there and go get ‘em.”

LOOK AT PAISLEY FIRING UP THE HARDLAND BABY! ANYONE ELSE FEEL LIKE LIFTING SOME WEIGHTS?!

• I love how every week it’s impossible to tell whether Gregg Williams is here to coach the defense or intentionally sow discord as a double agent sent by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Finally, we know what would happen if Officer Farva from Super Troopers had his DNA spliced with Nice Guy Eddie from Reservoir Dogs (warning: language). By the end of this season, Williams will have somehow convinced the defense to secede from the rest of the Browns. Mark my words.

• The Ty-rod vs. Tuh-Rod storyline has bubbled out from underneath the surface and is now a central plot point in this season of Hard Knocks. By my count, the team’s starting quarterback, whose job it is to command respect from his teammates, was called by the correct pronunciation of his name six times this episode and the incorrect pronunciation seven times.

• Offensive line coach Bob Wylie finally got his moment to shine, and while he may emerge as Wednesday’s breakout star for some, I was left with more questions than answers. His presentation to the offensive line about animal postures should be shown at every single coach’s press conference when they complain about not having enough valuable time with their players.

• Seth DeValve turned down a delicious-looking inside-out Oreo cookie … General manager John Dorsey referred to a staffer as “Intern No. 2” … And Jarvis Landry continued his quest to be Hard Knocks’ most marketable star by literally embodying the Arthur-Fist meme after a whipping a ball at a teammate’s head.

• Oh, and Dez Bryant is here. What amazes me about the footage of Bryant’s visit with the Cleveland Browns was that he was given free rein to roam around the facility and high five every single member of the Browns. Is that normal?

• One last thanks to NFL Films. On a day when the real news made us a little scared and a little sad, you devoted about five minutes of Tuesday’s Hard Knocks to Moose, the Browns dog who (like Bryant) is allowed to trot freely around the facility and accept greetings from those in all levels of the organization. Moose forever. Ride the peace train.

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NOW ON THE MMQB: Andy Benoit makes his playoff and Super Bowl predictions ... Deshaun Watson knows he can come back stronger than ever ... Robert Klemko's training camp postcard from Seattle

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: More troubling times for Richie Incognito ... Handling expectations in New Orleans ... 10 thoughts on the Detroit Lions under new head coach Matt Patricia.


PRESS COVERAGE

1. Adrian Peterson believes those who think this won't work out in Washington are haters. And those haters know nothing about football

2. Doug Marrone doesn't seem to care that his coaching was called into question by Doug Pederson in his new memoir

3. Grading all the first-round picks through two (or three) preseason games

4. Chris Carson is still leading the race to be Seattle's Day One starter at running back

5. Denver's 2017 third-rounder, Carlos Henderson, seems to be tumbling off the roster after missing the majority of camp

6. Every hit that has been flagged under the new leading-with-the-helmet rule so far. 

7. The Ravens are better off at receiver than they've been in years. That being said, they'd like some of the young guys to step up.

8. The Green Bay Packers would have never survived without their hometown newspaper. A cool piece from Pete Dougherty

9. Jon Dorenbos isn't sour about missing the Eagles' Super Bowl run. A great read catching up with the magic man.


THE KICKER 

Beto O'Rourke, a democratic challenger to Ted Cruz in Texas, has been making headlines of late for his take on NFL players kneeling to call attention to racial injustices in America. 

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com.

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