Dallas Cowboys episode on HBO Hard knocks is in the books. Here’s a look at what happened.
Isaac Alarcon was at the start of this episode. It was a look at the struggles of a young player trying to adjust to the game and not having the success he wants. For him, it’s a more difficult course than most as a product of the International Pathways program, with far less experience in the game than most players in the league. Her story would be woven into and out of the episode. One thing related was offensive line coach Joe Philbin working to try and bring him up to NFL standards.
His family was shown, beaming with pride that Alarcon could wear the Mexican flag on his helmet. He explained how the dream seemed impossible to reach the NFL. Like many of his compatriots, he’s a longtime Cowboys fan who always seems stunned to be in the locker room with his heroes.
Another of the stars of the game was not a person at all, but The Star at Frisco. A long tracking drone shot took us inside the glitzy and spectacular installation Jerry Jones created in the North Texas plains. And it featured the owner himself basking in the praise of the fans. A bittersweet retrospective addressed the rapid rise to fame and the long, dry period since the early ’90s.
When he was with his family, Alarcon spoke of his brother’s effect on him. The show also looked at the relationship between Trevon Diggs and his brother, wide receiver Stefon Diggs of the Bison Tickets.
Amari Cooper has had her time in the limelight. This episode covered his return to the field while recovering from his own injury. After having to move inside due to lightning in the area, he finally trained. Many wondered if CeeDee Lamb was Dallas’ new WR1, but his road race was there. And Lamb came to him for work on his own roads at the hands of the master. The two have very different personal sides, as Cooper is calm and low-key, while Lamb had a garbage conversation with emerging star Micah Parsons. Then it was Parsons’ turn as he was dragged into the linebacker room.
A much less well-covered recruit is JaQuan Hardy. It turns out that he has very poor vision and lost contact during the Arizona Cardinals Game. Like most players, he didn’t want to go out, but he disguised himself for injuring his team by staying on the pitch when he was embarrassed by his vision. As with almost anything football related, he suffered a lot of heartache from his teammates as he struggled to get a new goal in his eyes. He chose to go back to Rec Specs to try to get around it. He’s unlikely to be part of the 53-man roster, but a chance on the practice squad is one way to keep his personal dream alive. He struggled to catch passes, but seemed to settle in and get back into the good graces of the coaches.
His segment also showed that it’s not just Cooper who gets things done to young players. Ezekiel Elliott also took time with Hardy to help him. And then he was doing Zeke things on the pitch. This man seems ready to eat again this year, and not just the snacks he always seems to gobble up.
As he has the whole camp, Dak Prescott’s health was a point of emphasis. The decision to keep him away from Houston Texans the game was of course included. We also found out that he didn’t like mascots.
The episode gave us a glimpse of one of the men working behind the scenes, in this case Johnathon Jackson, whose family has worked with the team for decades. One of the things he does with fan mail is playing Spades, Texas’s premier card game. He and Parsons teamed up against Dak and Zeke, and the superstars on the pitch had their places at the table.
This brought us to the Texans game. With an appearance of the JerryCopter, it was time to see how the players fared. For newbies it was a chance to gain some gaming experience, and players on the lower roster would have another chance to make their case to stay with the team.
Garrett Gilbert’s rapid downfall led to Cooper Rush’s equally rapid rise in the battle for QB2, or at least to prove to the team that they don’t need to step out of the building to support Prescott. And with Rush’s performance, Cooper and Lamb had time to work. Although neither of them were able to score, they spilled blood and obtained the necessary action. We also had an excellent view of the quality of Cedrick Wilson’s touchdown.
Gilbert’s fall was nothing compared to Ben DiNucci’s collapse in the second half. The documentation of his three interceptions was brutal. Staff, including his sponsor, Mike McCarthy, tried to clear this up, but to no avail. It was hard to see one person fail in their greatest moment, but it clearly illustrates the decision the Cowboys face.
We also got to see Hardy wrestle, as his movement penalty cost DiNucci his best game of the game. He got some good plays later so his situation remains uncertain. Azur Kamara, who had plenty of time in a previous episode, was struggling too, but DeMarcus Lawrence became the third veteran to step in and offer one-on-one coaching. This seemed to calm Kamara down.
Alarcon returned to focus and started leveling people, much to his family’s delight in the stands.
But this one was the most impactful on those who fall.
At the time of this post, we are live on Blogging The Boys’ YouTube channel discussing Episode 3 of Hard knocks. You can always check back if you arrive late or listen to it on the Blogging The Boys podcast network (Apple devices subscribe here and Spotify users subscribe here)
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