Like last time, I went through the latest episode of Hard Knocks: Los Angeles and recapped all of my favorite moments.
It was another excellent inside look at the daily goings-on of the Los Angeles Chargers which will slowly-but-surely continue to help solidify a connection between this team and their ever-growing fan base.
Unlike the premiere of the season, this episode was skewed a bit more towards the Rams, which was not all that surprising given that episode one leaned in the favor of the Bolts.
So without further ado, here’s the recap for Episode 2 of Hard Knocks.
“Wear your cleats. Tempo will be Side and Glide”
Episode 2 did not include the first day of pads on Monday, but it did start off with Anthony Lynn discussing with the team how they’re about to enter Phase 2 of camp. “Wear your cleats,” he said through a megaphone as his players fanned out around him. The coach wanted the extra volume to hammer home to his guys that the next set of practices will be at a faster pace and that they will be competing against each other in future walkthroughs.
“The tempo will be ‘slide and glide’.”
For those of you who didn’t get the chance to see Lynn and his players demonstrate it, the slide and glide speed of practice simply means for defensive players to mirror the movements of the offense, making sure to keep pace at all times. It’s not full-speed, but you’re running and should expect to get a little bit of a sweat going in the meantime.
How they’re living: Veterans v. Rookies
Hard Knocks gave us some insight on the disparity of the living situations between the established veterans and the rookies/undrafted players during training camps. Obviously those with the means and years accrued are able to afford an actual house while the rest of them have to stay in the team hotel for the time being.
The Ram’s Andrew Whitworth had some sentiments regarding these players and he wanted to relay just how difficult it is, especially for the undrafted players, who aren’t going to receive nearly the same shot as past UDFAs. It’s one of the saddest truths about this NFL season, especially when you know there’s nothing more that can be done given the current state of the country.
“It’s going to be HARD to find another ‘Ek’”
Staying on the same theme of undrafted players, the producers put a spotlight on Austin Ekeler’s path to being the team’s new RB1. They through in some footage from that preseason week four game against the 49ers, which was THE game that Ekeler and the rest of the coaches will point to as the key moment that sold the NFL on the former Division II running back.
There was a nice scene between Ekeler and Darius Bradwell, the lone running back signed by the Chargers as a UDFA following the 2020 draft. The veteran tried to impart as much sage wisdom on the rookie as possible, knowing that he’s going to be fighting a much more difficult battle than he did back in 2017.
Speaking of Bradwell’s difficult journey, it didn’t help that the former member of the Tulane Green Wave made his path to the NFL all that more challenging by showing up to training camp at 253 pounds. That’s almost 20 pounds heavier than the 235 he played at in college.
There was a scene where Lynn checked-in on the young back to inquire about his weight-loss progress and the rookie reported that he’s down to 242 pounds. That was still too high for Lynn who then questioned if Bradwell was just sitting around doing nothing while he was waiting for camp to start.
The following scenes showed Bradwell getting some extra workouts in with strength & conditioning coach John Lott either before or after the team’s already-scheduled practices. Both Lott and Lynn have mentioned how much potential they think Bradwell has and both of them seem determined to make sure he doesn’t waste his talent just because he has tracking his calorie intake.
We’ve seen plenty of promising young players fall out of the NFL due to weight issues. Names like Eddie Lacy and Karlos Williams come to mind. It really is a problem for some of these thicker ball-carriers so I truly hope Bradwell is able to quell whatever cravings may be burdening him in camp.
A “false positive”?
Seth Ryan is an offensive assistant for the Chargers. He’s also a veteran of Hard Knocks having appeared on the show 11 years ago as the 16-year old son of former Jets coach Rex Ryan.
In Tuesday’s show, Ryan was highlighted because he was the first coach other than Lynn to test positive for the coronavirus. However, after 36 hours and another round of testing, Ryan tested negative, confirming that the first test was actually a false positive.
It was a sigh of relief for the young coach who supposedly spends all of his time either with the team or at home playing Call of Duty. Knowing this, you could understand his disbelief after supposedly contracting the disease when he’s been living in his own pseudo-bubble.
Justin Hebert: Assistant to Keenan Allen
One of my quotes from last night’s episode was from rookie Justin Herbert while he was talking with Keenan Allen.
“My job is to get you the ball. I’m your assistant. Think of it that way.”
I like that mindset from the young QB. As a quarterback he’s supposed to be the leader of the team, but when he’s still getting his feet wet and getting acclimated, it’s not a bad idea to play “intern” with your best offensive weapons. It gives you a sense of focus to make sure you’re staying on top of your own responsibilities which, at this moment, is getting him the ball on a consistent basis.
The scene broke to Lynn speaking with owner Dean Spanos about his 2020 first-round pick, mentioning that he’s still “quiet”, even though NFL quarterbacks are usually “loud mouths.” But it was one of his final comments that stuck with me:
“You gotta let him do it through his own personality.”
Again, a great quote. Lynn is not trying to box Herbert into what he thinks is the mold for an NFL quarterback. He knows what he’s got in the 6’6 gunslinger and he is confident that Herbert will naturally evolve into the signal-caller he is supposed to be.
Cadence, Cadence, Cadence
My favorite scene from the entire show was probably the interaction between Herbert and right tackle Bryan Bulaga. In an exchange where the veteran essentially took Herbert under his wing for the moment, the former Packer expressed the importance of developing a consistent, repetitive cadence so as to allow proper timing and get-off from his offensive line. Bulaga expressed the need for a deliberate, nuanced cadence instead of rushing through things unconsciously.
We get inside football from Hard Knocks. But sometimes it’s easy to miss some quality inside football nuggets in a show. Here’s RT @BBulaga explaining to Herbert the importance of the cadence rhythm. It might seem like something small, but it’s HUGE to the offensive line. pic.twitter.com/6s1ZMbCR6b— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) August 19, 2020
In the scene prior, Lynn told Herbert that he was able to distinguish when the offense was about to run the ball or pass it based on how Herbert would say his cadence. He was essentially tipping his hand without even realizing it. Going forward, Hebert is going to have to find a healthy middle in order to synchronize all his cadences into one perfect rhythm.
Get in the hole!
When the Chargers are away from camp, there is still only so much they can do in the way of competition. After all, they’re still professional athletes who are naturally competitive. The duo of Derwin James and Brandon Facyson took on Chris Harris Jr. and Casey Hayward in a friendly game of cornhole that looked to go down to the wire, with who else but James hitting the game-winning shot.
The episode ended with a montage from the teams’ first set of practices with their helmets on. Guys like Allen and Joey Bosa were shown making plays and it all culminated with Derwin James saying “I’m trying to get me a pick” before stepping in front of Hunter Henry for an interception.
While the credits rolled, we got treated to the already-teased scene of Ekeler getting told that he put his shorts on backwards. I know we got treated to it last week, but it did nothing to dull the moment the second time around.
That’s all I got for you guys this week. Next week honestly can’t come soon enough. I’ll have my predictions for next week’s episode out sometime later this week!