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Cowboys 'Hard Knocks' Episode 4: Dead 'Boys Walking

The HBO docuseries' penultimate episode focuses on heat, COVID and Cowboys who are no longer Cowboys

Hard Knocks? Tuesday night's episode of the HBO docuseries might as well have been called Dead 'Boys Walking.

Between players complaining about the heat, a brief COVID scare at The Star and the finale of a winless preseason, the penultimate episode featured Dallas Cowboys that ... are now former Dallas Cowboys.

The show - as it does every Summer - latched onto long-shot players with interesting back stories. But as of Tuesday, the travails of running back JaQuan Hardy, offensive lineman Isaac Alarcón and quarterback Ben DiNucci are merely fuzzy footnotes as they were released as part of the team's cutdown to its final 53-man roster.

The show also spotlighted rookie Micah Parsons, who we now know is a physical specimen consumed with mental board games. After losing at chess earlier in the series, the linebacker exacted some revenge by embarrassing Leighton Vander Esch in the old-school game of Connect 4.

Quarterback Dak Prescott got his weekly cameo, of course. This time - despite his new $160 million contract - he was attempting to invent a new tailgate game involving an end-zone pylon.

Says Prescott, "It'll be the new cornhole ... $15 to make, sell it for $40 ... we'll all be millionaires."

The episode was borderline blah. Players hate heat. Coaches hate virtual meetings. Cowboys aren't comedians.

(Truth be told, we'd all rather spend an hour watching the mesmerizing drone tour of The Star headquarters and listening to the entertaining Ezekiel Elliott's freestyle analysis on the sideline.)

It wasn't a total shutout for the feel-good narratives, however, as linebacker Azur Kamara from the Ivory Coast took his West African family shopping in plush Frisco and then messed around and made the final roster. 

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The lingering question from the episode: Will Alarcón's vocal, enthusiastic mother still be as rabid of a Cowboys fan now that her son is an ex-Cowboy?

Oh yeah, and owner Jerry Jones really, Really, REALLY loves him some Whataburger.

"I like it untouched," Jones said. "I don't care if it's been sitting out for an hour and half."

READ MORE: Cowboys finalize 53-man roster

Good news: While the Cowboys are making their record third appearance on Hard Knocks, 19 teams - including their three NFC East brethren - have yet to be featured.

Bad news: The Cowboys have never made the playoffs in a year in which they starred, going a combined 14-18 in 2002 and 2008. In fact, no team on Hard Knocks has ever gone on to play in the Super Bowl.

READ MORE: Like 30 other NFL teams, Cowboys kicking tires on Cam Newton

In 2002, the Cowboys' series was highlighted by Emmitt Smith's imminent pursuit of the NFL's all-time rushing record, the travails of troubled quarterback Quincy Carter and head coach Dave Campo, who sang karaoke, took his players to San Antonio's Sea World and made his entire team punch a time clock.

In 2008, the show followed the storylines of a new stadium being built in Arlington, receiver Terrell Owens, newcomer Pacman Jones, a rookie named Martellus Bennett rolling his eyes at the coaching of assistant John Garrett and the decline of former first-round draft pick Bobby Carpenter, who offensive players derisively referred to as "Barbie Carpenter" and a "punk ass bitch."

This Summer's five-episode series continues each Tuesday, climaxing two days before the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.