The second episode of "Hard Knocks", which is chronicling the 2022 Detroit Lions’ journey through training camp and the preseason, made its debut Tuesday night. Here are the highlights from the episode.
Behind the scenes of preseason game one
The episode concluded with an up-close look at Detroit’s preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons. Lions head coach Dan Campbell was wearing a microphone, so his reactions to big plays were recorded and shown.
Detroit scored on its first drive of the game, as D’Andre Swift punched it in from nine yards out. However, earlier in the drive, he was pulled from the game, and sternly talked to by Detroit running backs coach Duce Staley.
The second-year assistant head coach, who doubles as the leader of the running backs room, reminded his talented back to trust his blockers and cut inside, rather than stretch the play toward the sideline.
Swift followed his advice on his next carry, and eventually scored a touchdown.
Two other players were featured predominantly throughout the game: quarterback David Blough and rookie defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. The latter played the game’s first defensive series, and made tackles on each of his first two plays.
On each play, his family’s reaction was displayed. His mother was in tears after her son’s second tackle, while his father was pleased, as well.
“Two plays, two tackles. I’ll take it,” said Aidan's father Chris Hutchinson.
The family also discussed potential sack celebrations for Aidan, as he works toward his first regular season game.
Blough, on the other hand, was shown trying to close out the victory for Detroit late in the game. He fumbled a snap in a critical situation, and was visibly distraught in a conversation with quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell and fellow signal-callers Jared Goff and Tim Boyle following the play.
The Lions lost the game, 27-23, as Atlanta capitalized on the turnover. Quarterback Desmond Ridder hit wide receiver Jared Bernhardt on fourth down for the game-winning score.
Campbell was reserved following the game, explaining the importance of doing the little things and making the right decisions in key situations.
“Look, that’s frustrating,” Campbell said. “It’s frustrating, because you want to win that game and we should’ve won that game. But, we didn’t earn it. We didn’t earn it. Man, we did some good things early. Some real good things, but man, you’re gonna see in this league, when things don’t go right, it’s probably your own fault. It’s probably our own fault.
"Man, I’m not fitting the right gap. End of game, I don’t contain when I should contain, guys being selfish, not trusting their teammates. Just little stuff, but that’s the little stuff that bites you in the (expletive).”
St. Brown dishes on motivation
Three young players were the focal points of this episode. Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is looking to build off a solid 2021 season, in which he set the team record for receiving yards by a rookie.
In Tuesday’s episode, he was profiled. Known for entering the league motivated, willing and able, he explained what drives him. The USC product named each of the 16 wideouts drafted ahead of him in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Additionally, he provided context as to why he catches 202 balls off the JUGS machine after each and every practice.
“That number stems from my dad, when we were young, some kid had pretty good hands,” St. Brown said. “My dad asked his father, ‘What does he do to have such good hands?’ And he goes, ‘We catch 200 passes off the JUGS machine.’ So my dad, being the dad he is, said, ‘We have to catch more.’ So, 202 was the number from that day.”
Viewers were also treated to footage of him lifting with his brother Equanimeous and father John, who is a bodybuilder and two-time Mr. Universe.
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Rodriguez, Blough also featured
Malcolm Rodriguez is climbing the depth chart for the Lions. The sixth-round draft pick in 2022 has been impressive at the linebacker position. He received high praise from linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard during a team meeting early in the episode.
“Watch Rodriguez,” Sheppard states. “I’m (expletive) sick of saying this about a rookie. What do y’all want me to do, put him out there first? Because that’s what’s about to happen. It’s nothing against you, Rodriguez, matter of fact you’re playing your (expletive) (expletive) off. But, it’s a rookie that I’m doing everything I can to not put out there first. I’m sick of (expletive) saying it.”
Blough also was highlighted during the episode with his wife, Olympic athlete Melissa Gonzalez. The Lions backup QB went viral for his reactions watching her compete in the 400-meter hurdles during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
The two shared time on screen for an interview, along with a series of clips of Gonzalez training at Oak Park High School for her next race. She’s hoping to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Glenn: ‘Time to get that feeling back’
After Campbell’s speech garnered rave reviews during the premiere episode, it was defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn’s turn to make an impassioned message to the team.
Glenn spoke about making a change to the team and organization’s mindset. Specifically, he wants winning to be an expectation.
“It’s time for a change,” Glenn said. “It’s time for a change for you as players, for this organization, for us as coaches. Man, I’m trying to get something that’s gonna stir you up from the inside that’s gonna change exactly who you are as a player, who this organization is, so that we can move forward on this journey.”
He used Jonah Jackson, an Ohio State product, and Michael Brockers, who won a national title in college, as examples of players who wake up expecting to win.
“It’s time to get that feeling back,” he said. “Y’all dig what I’m saying? It’s time to get that feeling back. At some point, man, we’ve got to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough.”
While introducing him as the speaker, Campbell had high praise for his second-year defensive coordinator.
“You guys know A.G., defense, you guys certainly are dealing with him on a daily basis,” Campbell said. “Offense, half of you talk (expletive) to him the whole time, and he fires right back. But, man, I’d go to war with him, any day. I trust him with everything I’ve got in my soul. I (expletive) trust him. He’s a helluva coach.”
Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, the best running back in Lions history, made an appearance at a recent team practice. This was shown during the episode, along with a package of his highlights.
The former Lions back was shown speaking to team president Rod Wood and general manager Brad Holmes. He complimented the condition of the field, and asked the GM about Hutchinson.
Footage of the team working on a two-minute drill during practice was shown. The drive was a success, as Goff hit St. Brown for a touchdown. Campbell had Josh Reynolds, whom he called “Big Smooth” and “the serpent of (expletive) death," conduct the team breakdown after practice.
Staley's and Swift’s relationship was showcased. The coach had an eye-to-eye conversation with the running back, during a meeting about Swift's potential as an NFL running back.