'Hard Knocks' recap: Episode 4

September, 3, 2009
9/03/09
10:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker


HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series continued Wednesday night with its fourth episode on the Cincinnati Bengals.

Here is a recap:



Synopsis: This week’s episode centered on Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. He is in his seventh year in Cincinnati and several of his own players admitted that this is a big season for “The Bossman,” as receiver Chad Ochocinco refers to him. The show details Cincinnati’s history and Lewis’ various struggles, such as making sure the Bengals don’t accept mediocrity and keeping in check all the different personalities. He even calls out Ochocinco for using Twitter, and then yells at the entire team following a preseason loss to the St. Louis Rams.


All in the family:
Finally, the show delved into the “family business” of the Bengals and how the team was once run by Paul Brown and passed onto current owner Mike Brown. Another interesting tidbit was that vice president Katie Blackburn worked for the team as early as high school. Blackburn, Mike Brown’s daughter, now has a law degree and is the Bengals’ chief negotiator.


Funny moment No. 1:
The entrance for the coaches at Paul Brown Stadium doesn’t work. “The gate is still broke?” Lewis wondered. “Why do I think the gate is still broke?” So Lewis backs up his truck, then drives it around the entrance gate and gets a good laugh out of it.


Funny moment No. 2:
With his girlfriend in attendance, Ochocinco offers a tip on how to meet women. The trick, according to Ochocinco, is to tell a woman your cell phone is dead, borrow hers, and then dial your number from the woman’s phone and call or text her later. “That may be some stalker-ish stuff but it helps with the rejection process.” (Thanks, Ocho, but I think I’ll pass on that approach.)


Fullback quandary:
It looks like the fullback competition between 2009 draft pick Fui Vakapuna and relative unknown Chris Pressley is heating up. The coaches like Pressley’s blocking ability more and appear to be considering him for a surprise roster spot. Vakapuna is more fluid catching passes out of the backfield, according to the team. Finals roster cuts are Saturday. Could an upset be brewing?


Smith in action:
As expected, first-round pick Andre Smith’s contract agreement made it into the most recent episode. Smith ended his 30-day holdout, and owner Mike Brown tells him right away that he’s not in good shape. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported this week that Smith was overweight when he arrived, and your favorite AFC North blogger also reported that Cincinnati inserted a 350-pound “weight clause” into his contract during the regular season. HBO showed the actual sequence where Smith fractured a bone in his foot, and it was really a non-descript play where he was holding his block on Chris Harrington. According to HBO, Smith will be out for at least three weeks.


Grade:
B


Why:
This was another good episode in what’s been an impressive season of “Hard Knocks,” but I felt this week’s offering was a bit jumbled. The show tried to explain the Bengals’ family-run operation, Lewis’ plight, Smith’s signing, a poor preseason performance, and while still getting in its weekly dose of Ochocinco all in one hour. It jumped back and forth from story to story so fast without going very in-depth on any one topic. But overall it’s pretty clear that Lewis is not pleased with his football team. There are a lot of little things going on with the Bengals right now that Lewis doesn’t like, such as players arriving late to practice and not taking care of the little things in games. Cleaning up the little things is what the preseason is for. But if the Bengals feel they’ve already arrived and carry that attitude into the regular season, it could be a long year.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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