Camp Notes – Best Rams Moments Of Hard Knocks Episode 2
Episode one of Hard Knocks focused on how the LA NFL teams would implement the pandemic protocols and for good reason. We were all wondering how a few hundred people, including 90 spitting, bleeding, huffing, and puffing professional athletes would cope.
But with that handled, episode two was all about football. Well, it was more about football. Just like for the rest of us, COVID will be a focus for the foreseeable future. But gladly, because of the implementation of those protocols, the virus isn’t the headline. The best moments of Hard Knocks Episode 2 are about football, mostly.
The COVID Protocols
Truly the best news coming out of Hard Knocks is that there have been no positive tests between the Rams or the Chargers. The masks and the social distancing and the invasive nasal swab tests are working. At first, it seems as though some have become cavalier with the protocols. The first shot of Sean McVay shows him with a mask around his chin and players closely huddled. As the episode unfolds we see Anthony Lynn reinforcing the distancing rules and masks regularly worn indoors, across the board.
We also see the reveal of the Oakley mouth shield and the Kinexon wristband, a social distancing indicator. And the players took the red “too close” light seriously. This is supported by a montage of players shooing teammates and coaches away. The montage was capped off perfectly by Mike Williams realizing he forgot his wristband then comically galloping off the field once he was informed of the 50k fine for that infraction.
Andrew Whitworth and his family were also highlighted. He, his wife, and his children all tested positive, as did his in-laws. While the symptoms for most of the family were mild, Andrew’s father-in-law was hospitalized for five days. While there has been plenty of successes to celebrate, this certainly served as a sobering reminder of how this virus is real and how easily it is spread.
Of course, all the execution of the protocols can’t protect against a false positive. 26-year-old, offensive quality control coach Seth Ryan gave the Chargers a scare. He initially was sent home after testing positive for the coronavirus but returned fewer than 48 hours later because he then tested negative twice. This story probably would have never made the final cut if it was just any young assistant coach. Seth Ryan is the son of, perhaps, the biggest Hard Knocks star of all time, Rex Ryan. But a non-story about COVID is also a good story. It means there is a little more hope. One, that there will be football in 2020. Two, with the right precautions, we can slow the spread and weather this storm.
One of the more predominant questions about this very weird season is how will teams assess young talent. The teams were forced to cut their rosters early, going from 90 players to 80. Andrew Vollert was last week’s example; a player that had plenty of talent and grit but had to be cut prematurely.
This week, Austin Ekeler was the opposite example. In 2017, Ekeler was an undrafted free agent and earned a place onto the Charger’s roster after standing out in a preseason game. This season the rookies will have to make their big impressions in practice alone.
Hard Knocks highlighted a few young players. We see Ekeler giving Darius Bradwell his best advice; standout. Bradwell has potential and he can really throw a medicine ball around, but he came in overweight. He reported he was 253 lbs, at the time of filming he was 242 lbs, but the Chargers want him at 235 lbs. When Coach Lynn asked him about it, he responded that he has been cooped up in a hotel room. That kind of excuse won’t get you far this season. Everyone has been cooped up. The kind of rookie that will get on the roster will have found a way to stay in shape.
Rams rookie linebacker, Clay Johnston went about it in another way. He talked a lot, he asked a lot of questions, he glommed on to other teammates. He did get noticed, but nobody really seemed to know what to make of him. Some seemed annoyed, others indulged but kept him at an arm’s length, others were merely amused. He seemed a bit lost, but he recognized that he had a lot to learn. It will be interesting to see how he progresses and how he gels with the team.
While Johnston seemed lost and insecure, Justin Herbert looked right at home. So far he is what we knew he’d be coming out of the draft. He’s a reserved leader, he’s never used a verbal cadence and he has a great arm. But, his epic slow-mo pigskin sling-fest featured in the episode doesn’t clarify who will be the Chargers starting quarterback come week one.
The best news for the Rams is that Jalen Ramsey is happy in LA. He called being traded to the Rams, “Probably, one of the best days of my life.” and we saw him spending an off day house hunting. How long and how much that will hit the Rams cap are still up in the air. As of this year, his presence in the backfield will be appreciated.
“Probably, one of the best days of my life.” – Jalen Ramsey
Another question of longevity is raised, but this one is just about how long Andrew Whitworth will last. He’s called out as the old man on campus on the show; some of his teammates were just kids on his first go-round on Hard Knocks. He appeared in 2009 with the Cincinnati Bengals. The team’s youngest player, Bryce Perkins was 13 when that season aired. That said, what age brings to the table is experience. We see Whitworth in his socks and holding a few coffee cups, obviously heading off the field, taking some time with tight end Kendall Blanton to give him some blocking tips. That sort of experience is invaluable, especially with the Rams young and developing offensive line.
We also see Aaron Donald taking on the same peer-to-peer coaching. McVay highlights Donald in a meeting, holding him up as not just a great player but going above and beyond to make others around him better. But, hands down, seeing Donald in the walkthroughs and drills is scary. He looks bigger and faster. He makes the rest look ordinary
Episode two ends with the first day of helmeted practices. We see the competition level increase and the tension build. There is no time left, football is right around the corner. It’s never felt closer after this episode.
McVay pumping himself up with the Monday Night Football theme song is the best! You’re right, Sean. Football is fun!
Taco Bell has wings!? About as weird as Jack in the Box having tacos.
Jalen Ramsey’s real estate agent can legit hike in heels.
Rich people get crazy stuff at open houses! A personalized $2 bill!? Wild.
Donte Deayon is ridiculously entertaining. Show us more.
I could beat those Chargers players at corn hole.