'Hard Knocks' recap: Episode 2

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

HBO's "Hard Knocks" series with the Cincinnati Bengals continued Wednesday night.

Here is a recap of some of the highlights:

Synopsis: This week's episode focused a lot on Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, who was accurately described as the team's most important player this season. Cincinnati played a mock game and also its first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints. Before the game, Bengal players and coaches were telling each other this was the start of something special. But the exhibition turned out to be a 17-7 win for the Saints. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis wasn't happy afterwards about the team's second-half performance.

QB wisdom: According to Palmer, 60-to-70 percent of what star receiver Chad Ochocinco says is just hot air. Palmer says he tunes out his top target most of the time.

More Ocho: The veteran receiver went out for a rare night on the town during training camp and ended up being harassed by a male fan. Ochocinco handles it well and later responds, "See how boring my life is? All I have is Twitter." The show also focused on his not-so-good diet, which has always included a lot of McDonald's.

Truth and reality: "Hard Knocks" continues to make rookie tight end Chase Coffman a huge goat on the show, which is only part of the story. Coffman is making rookie mistakes, but he's gradually improved as camp has progressed. Yet it seems every one of his mistakes is being profiled in what's framed almost as a running joke. It was pretty funny that the coaching staff came up with a new nickname for Coffman: "Crash dummy."

Far apart: The show ends with a bang as Bengals vice president Katie Blackburn is on the telephone negotiating with Alvin Keels, the agent for first-round pick Andre Smith. With tens of millions of dollars at stake, both sides argue over the Darrius Heyward-Bey deal and how it impacts Smith. Keels wants more than Heyward-Bey, while Blackburn doesn't want to give the No. 6 pick more than the No. 7 pick. It's not looking good.

Grade: A-

Why: As expected the show is getting better with each episode. This week's version was very personality based, which is great for Bengals fans and non-Bengals fans alike. Viewers got to know players like Palmer, Chinedum Ndukwe, Chris Henry and Corey Lynch on a more personal level. There were even small details such as how to make a quarterback wristband before game day, which was probably a television first. All and all it was a great job of chronicling the past week in "Bengaldom."