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Detroit Lions Hard Knocks Ep. 1 Highlights

Here are the highlights of Ep. 1 of Hard Knocks featuring the Detroit Lions.

The football world will have a unique look at the Detroit Lions during their second training camp under head coach Dan Campbell.

With the organization agreeing to be the focus of "Hard Knocks" this season, fans and viewers of the show will come to know those within the walls of the team’s Allen Park headquarters.

The first episode of the show debuted Tuesday at 10 p.m. Here are highlights from the premiere:

Campbell’s season-opening speech

The episode began with Campbell addressing the team as a whole at the start of camp. He quickly outlined the three team rules — don’t be late, don’t be overweight and don’t respect teammates or the game — before diving into the meat and potatoes of his message.

He made the analogy of the NFL to the ocean, explaining the key to winning football games and becoming a great team. The second-year coach made sure to emphasize his core value, grit, and how it impacts winning at the professional level.

“What does (grit) mean?” Campbell said. “To me, it means this -- we’ll go a little bit longer, we’ll push a little harder, we’ll think a little deeper and a little sharper. To me, it means we’ll play you anywhere. We’ll play on grass, we’ll play you on turf, we’ll go to a (expletive) landfill. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter if you have one (expletive) cheek and three toes, I’ll beat your (expletive).

“There’s a number of teams as it equates to, bear with me, the ocean. There’s a number of teams, they just barely get to the water. There’s a number of teams that just get to the water, there’s a number of teams where that’s all they get to. Then there’s a number of teams, they are in the shallows, and they come in a hurry and they are all over your (expletive). They strike and move and they’re dangerous men. You just got to get a hold of them though, if you just get a hold of them and drag them out to the deep, dark abyss, you can drown them.”

Campbell finished his beginning monologue by invoking lyrics to Metallica’s "No Leaf Clover". The lyrics in the song explain that the light at the end of a tunnel is a freight train coming through.

By using that metaphor, the Lions’ head coach stated that he wants his team to be like the train and take out opponents.

Following that, he hit the practice field and participated in down-ups with his team during the first day of practice. It wasn’t easy for him, however, as he suffered an injury to his wrist after falling in his house days before.

Hutchinson stars in debut

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Rookie defensive end Aidan Hutchinson is a major topic of conversation as he goes through his first training camp. The hometown product comes to Motown after spending his high school days at Dearborn Divine Child and his college days at Michigan.

The rookie was featured prominently in the debut episode. His family hosted the film crew for a conversation and numerous clips were shown of him in action at practice.

The top moment, however, came when he was asked to perform in front of the entire team during a meeting. With no music playing in the background, the 6-foot-7 defensive end performed Michael Jackson’s "Billie Jean" to a very enthusiastic group of football players. 

He made a mistake at first, beginning his performance with the wrong lyrics, but rebounded to have a performance that sent the team into a frenzy. Numerous voices joined him for the chorus and players were seen dancing in their seats.

Later in the episode, linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard asked other members of the staff if they believed the rookie would be a “sure thing,” in the NFL. The answers were a resounding yes.

Duce Staley and Aaron Glenn go at it

Two assistants that were featured heavily in the episode were assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. Both former players, they shared their experiences during the show.

However, the two were featured later in the episode as they dueled during the team’s fully padded practice session early in camp. Both hurled verbal jabs when their respective units made big plays.

When rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez made a big play on a screen pass, it was Glenn talking. Staley responded with a quip of his own. Later on, the Lions hit a big play to wide receiver Tom Kennedy that got Staley going.

It’s clear both take immense pride in what they do, as their emotions speak for themselves.

Briefly

  • Rodriguez also performed during the episode, showing off his salsa dance moves.
  • Jamaal Williams made an impassioned speech following one of the team’s early padded practices. His talk, centered around his need to be better and hopes for an improved season, moved him to tears and garnered a response from his teammates.
  • Linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard shared a story about considering cutting his hair when he was hired. Campbell told him that he disagreed and did not want a professional version, he wanted the person he hired for the job to be himself. 
  • Campbell shared his coaching experience, explaining his tour to Detroit. He said that he was offered a job as New Orleans’ tight ends coach the day after he finished as the interim head coach at Miami, and that Saints head coach Sean Payton wanted to mentor him the same way Bill Parcells mentored him.