HBO produced its first episode of "Hard Knocks," featuring the Miami Dolphins Tuesday evening. It was a good start to what should be an interesting season.
Here is a recap and observations on the show:
As expected, there was plenty of focus on the quarterbacks. Matt Moore got the airtime first with his newborn and wife. It was a good view of Moore's home life, in addition to the pressures of trying to win a three-way quarterback race with David Garrard and rookie Ryan Tannehill. HBO did a good job of introducing all three quarterbacks to the audience.
Tannehill's holdout was documented well behind the scenes. Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said at one point in the show the holdout is "driving me nuts." Tannehill eventually signed his contract and showed up past the team's curfew after 11 p.m. ET. He took his conditioning test the same night and practiced the following morning.
Here is some shameless self promotion: I got a two-second cameo on the show during Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross’ press conference. I just had to get that in.
The Dolphins showed their workouts with both receiver Braylon Edwards and guard Eric Steinbach. Ireland questioned Edwards about his prior stops and if there's any concerns to worry about. Miami passed on Edwards, who later landed with the Seattle Seahawks, but signed Steinbach.
Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis says he was "gassed" in the first practices. I remember watching Davis getting beat the first few days and thinking he wasn't the same player at the end of last season. Davis appears to have come into camp out of shape, which is not a good sign. The Dolphins have already put Richard Marshall ahead of Davis on the first depth chart. Davis has some ground to make up.
Receiver Chad Johnson was featured prominently. The former "Ochocinco" jokingly said he took the year off so everyone else could catch up. But Johnson also admits that he was exposed, and he's hungry to bounce back. The funniest part of the show was when Johnson interrupted a coaches' only meeting and demanded to have a seat. He left soon after. But it's a ploy you know Johnson could not have pulled off at a Bill Belichick-ran meeting with the New England Patriots. Johnson probably would've been released on the spot. Philbin, however, did not like Johnson’s profanity during a press conference and had a one-on-one talk with the receiver to clean up his language.
The show ended with Philbin meeting with all the quarterbacks. Philbin explained that he must release a depth chart and explained that Garrard is the No. 1 quarterback, Moore No. 2 and Tannehill No. 3. Philbin concluded that this chart was not final and someone is going to have to earn it. Overall, it was a good first episode of "Hard Knocks" but not many huge surprises.