While HBO’s “Hard Knock”s newest season debuted last week with a lighthearted episode, Tuesday’s second episode with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers produced a more serious tone as rapper Snoop Dogg nor any other celebrities made cameos like in the debut.
The beginning set up what was the big talking point over the weekend: the kicking battle.
Incumbent starter Roberto Aguayo and veteran Nick Folk were primed for a competition to win the starting job.
And as Folk discussed later in the episode, there are no backups for specialists in the NFL.
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Neither player wowed anyone during practice that saw Chris Baker rattle both kickers with some trash-talking before each kick that was shown.
“We’re looking for a guy to win the job,” Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter said in the episode.
Later, Aguayo’s poor performance against the Cincinnati Bengals in the preseason opener, including a missed extra point and field goal, sealed Aguayo’s fate.
That’s been documented, but what wasn’t shown was general manager Jason Licht and Koetter’s meeting with Aguayo to break the news.
It took an emotional route, with Koetter explaining how both himself and Licht had been fired before and Aguayo would latch onto a new team.
The kicking battle wasn’t the only topic explored.
Here are some notable highlights:
Quarterback Jameis Winston and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy flashed their leadership skills in different ways.
Winston went to every player in the locker room prior to the Bengals game and said, “I got your back.”
McCoy, meanwhile, calmed the rookies’ nerves in telling them to focus on technique.
The famous referee
Ed Hochuli made an appearance, but broadcaster Al Michaels wasn’t around to point out the “Hochuli Gun Show,” in admiration of Hochuli’s buff arms.
The longtime NFL referee lent his expertise on potential penalties for touchdown celebrations that the Bucs were trying out in practice.
McCoy had the best quote when he was showing off his man cave, which is basically a bat cave for all his superhero love spread about.
“I want to get punched by a superhero,” McCoy said. “Hard. Extremely hard.”
McCoy is also a professional wrestling fan. He wore Stone Cold Steve Austin, Macho Man Randy Savage and Andre the Giant socks.
Artistry, injury bug and the underdog update
Veteran defensive back Robert McClain received some air time with his girlfriend and daughter, showing off his hobby of drawing sketches or using paint brushes to release his creative energy.
Brent Grimes, a 34-year-old who plays like he’s a lot younger, suffered a scary injury with a laceration on his shin during practice. Ryan Griffin also was injured, picking up the shoulder injury in the Bengals game and is expected to miss considerable time, which basically eliminates him from the backup quarterback competition with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Middle linebacker Riley Bullough, who is an underdog to make the 53-man roster, was shown making some tackles against the Bengals.