"Hard Knocks" Jumps Right Into Antonio Brown's Foot Situation
The second episode of HBO's "Hard Knocks" "didn't wait long" to address Raiders WR Antonio Brown's feet, as three minutes into the episode, Brown's "burned feet took center stage," according to Charean Williams of PRO FOOTBALL TALK. Brown "showed the bottoms of his blistered and cracked feet," which he injured in a cryotherapy chamber last month. A week after "not addressing the reason for Brown's injured feet, Hard Knocks was more forthcoming in the second episode." Williams: "Sprinkled into the rest of the episode are the questions -- and non-answers -- about when Brown will return." Raiders GM Mike Mayock, who "played no role in the first episode, is shown in the production meeting with the team's broadcasters answering a question about Brown" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 8/13).
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL? YAHOO SPORTS' Frank Schwab wrote it has been "rare for viewers to tune into the HBO show expecting to see a story play out." Any conversation about Brown over the past few days "included speculation of how HBO would present those storylines." HBO "clearly didn't have enough footage to make a bulk of the episode on Brown, but the producers did their best to deliver." HBO "owes Brown one," as without his "cooperation on a controversial issue, it didn't seem like the crew had a lot of material." But what this second episode showed was "memorable, for better or worse" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/13). THE RINGER's Claire McNear writes at this point, the Brown drama "isn't merely a preseason curio." "Hard Knocks" takes viewers "behind the scenes to show us the #real NFL." The "mystery of Brown's feet and then of his helmet and possible refusal to play football at all have indisputably been the biggest news in the NFL over the last two weeks." If "Hard Knocks" cannot use its "access to explain what's happening, what's the point?" (THERINGER.com, 8/14).
FEEL-GOOD, FOR NOW: USA TODAY's Jim Reineking notes for the second straight week, "Hard Knocks" introduced an undrafted rookie who is "vying to make the final 53-man regular-season roster." Raiders WR Keelan Doss provides this season's "long-shot roster-bubble storyline that captivates viewers." In practice, Doss makes some "spectacular catches, but then drops some easy throws." Doss then scored a touchdown during the Rams-Raiders preseason game in the "feel-good moment of the show" (USA TODAY, 8/14). In Las Vegas, Adam Hill notes rookie WR Hunter Renfrow was "called upon to sing in front of his teammates at a team meeting, a longstanding rookie tradition in the NFL." Hill: "It didn't go so well." Renfrow gave a "half-hearted attempt at belting out 'Lean On Me,' drawing the ire of his disappointed teammates" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 8/14).
COACHING THEM UP: In S.F., Matt Kawahara notes the second episode "showed the Raiders essentially being embarrassed by the Rams in the first of their two practices." At one point, Raiders defensive line coach Brenston Buckner "lays into his group" -- especially No. 4 overall pick, rookie DE Clelin Ferrell. This week's episode also showed some of Raiders coach Jon Gruden's "dynamic" with QB Nathan Peterman, who is competing with Mike Glennon for the "backup quarterback job" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/14). In San Jose, Chuck Barney writes everyone "knew that Gruden would be great television and, oh man, he's living up to the hype" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 8/14).
INCOGNITO MODE: NBCSPORTSBAYAREA.com's Scott Bair wrote "Hard Knocks" "loves a good fight," and the Rams and Raiders "mixed it up on the second day of joint practices." The episode showed the "sideline-clearing incident that lasted about 10 seconds in real-time." The fight went "far longer on the show -- fights always look better in slo-mo -- as the episode milk drama from the moment." The show was "smart to put a microphone near" OG Richie Incognito, who commented on the fight (NBCSPORTSBAYAREA.com, 8/13). NFL.com's Dan Hanzus writes Incognito has been an "absolute peach through two weeks" of the show. It would be "great to get more on Incognito's journey in these final three weeks" (NFL.com, 8/14).