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Cowboys 'Hard Knocks' Episode 5: Tough Cuts & Tampa Plans

HBO's docuseries finale trained its cameras on roster cuts, a rookie linebacker and the cutest kid in Dallas.

A Hard Knocks series that commenced six weeks ago with Dak Prescott's leg scars climaxed Tuesday night with deep, painful cuts.

Behind-the-scenes footage of the 53-man roster decisions highlighted the final episode, but the show was dominated by rookie Micah Parsons learning pass-rush secrets from future Hall-of-Famer DeMarcus Ware, a cameo by former head coach Bill Parcells and Trevon Diggs' adorable son, Aaiden, comically continuing to mistake Prescott for Kansas City Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Player personnel director Will McClay delivered the cut news to most of the players as a group - before one-on-one meetings with Mike McCarthy - after some fascinating debates in the evaluation meetings.

"I just don't believe in giving up on guys in their second year," McCarthy said of quarterback Ben DiNucci. "He has things we're not gonna find in free agency."

Two days later, however, DiNucci was released and the Cowboys signed free-agent Will Grier.

The episode continued with Ezekiel Elliott delivering new shoes to back-to-school students in Oak Cliff, CeeDee Lamb detailing his lost-smell bout with COVID and Prescott's fiery speech after the last training camp practice.

"Let's work together and don't let each other down," the quarterback said. "And we can achieve whatever the f*ck we want!"

Eventually the topic turned to Tampa, and Thursday night's opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers.

"We're all about Tampa now," McCarthy said. "Let's get in their ass and play football."

The Cowboys have 36 new players who weren't on last year's disappointing 6-10 team.

"We're going to California," owner Jerry Jones said. "So we'll have to burn these wagons ... we'll have new faces.

"Yesterday is as dead as Napleon."

If you missed the shows and don't have time to catch up, a recap:

Episode 1: Scars & Super Bowl Expectations  

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Cowboys Bye-Week Takes: Zeke & Pals

The Cowboys find themselves with a big lead in the East after just six games and firing on all cylinders


‘McClock’: Cowboys Coach on 'Analytics As Media Weapon'

Mike McCarthy Responds To Criticism Of His Cowboys Game Management


Will NFL Suspend Cowboys' Kazee for Arrest?

“It’s unfortunate,” Cowboys coach McCarthy says of Kazee's arrest. “We’re definitely aware of everything that went on. It’s a pending legal matter right now.''

Episode 2: Monica vs. McCarthy

Episode 3: Dazzling Drone

Episode 4: Dead 'Boys Walking

READ MORE: Jones Holding Out Hope Martin Can Play Against Buccaneers

During Hard Knocks' Summer spotlight, we were treated to McCarthy's strange "mojo moments" and incessant cussing, a view of DFW from Jones' helicopter and the cuteness overload that is Diggs' son. We learned that Prescott was chubby as a kid, loves his adult scars and is an innovative entrepreneur envisioning a new version of "cornhole" feature end-zone pylons. Elliott reminded us that he knows how to steal a bike, has no clue how to wrap a gift and has strong feelings for sunflower seeds and baby powder. Parsons is bad at chess (ask Prescott) but unbeatable at Connect 4 (right, Leighton Vander Esch?).

The show latched onto the long-shot stories of bespeckled running back JaQuan Hardy, Mexican offensive lineman Isaac Alarcón and the cocky DiNucci, none of whom wound up making the team's final roster. But while the sub-plots were intriguing, it was Jones and a drone that wound up stealing the show.

Turns out the billionaire owner loves him over-salted McGriddles for breakfast and Whataburger - even if it's been sitting out uncovered for 90 minutes - for any other meal.

Let's be honest, the most indelible image of the show will be the drone that mesmerized us in Episode 3, flying over, in, out and right through The Star.

READ MORE: Cowboys' Top 10 Most Memorable Season Openers

Good news: While the Cowboys made 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.

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 aired each Tuesday, climaxing two days before the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.