Hard Knocks episode 3 didn’t feature Dan Campbell and his Campbell-isms much, but he always shines when he is called in front of the camera. He is a wild quote, but he is incredibly well-spoken in front of his group. The former NFL tight end is never at a loss for words.
The third episode followed the Detroit Lions‘ joint practices against the Colts and a few of the rookies battling for roster spots.
Hard Knocks Episode 3 recap: Obinna Eze receives some tough love
Life as an undrafted free agent isn’t easy, and Obinna Eze learned that the hard way during the third episode of the series. Eze played college ball at Memphis and TCU, but the rookie is from Nigeria. He’s only played football since 2016 and ended up at Memphis after just one season of varsity high school football.
The now 6-foot-8 offensive tackle originally came to the United States to play basketball. Still, he ended up being ranked as a consensus top-30 tackle recruit in the nation after just one season of high school football in Nashville, Tennessee.
But in the third episode of Hard Knocks, he learned the hard way that the eye in the sky is always watching. Potential is a fantastic trait, but there are few jobs in the NFL, and taking reps off at practice won’t leave a good impression on hard-nosed NFL coaches. That is especially true for offensive line coaches, and Hank Fraley is no exception.
When asked “who are you cheating” by Fraley, Eze incorrectly answered “nobody.”
The Importance of joint practices
Detroit made the trip to Indianapolis for a joint practice against the Colts. The entrance into the practice field was magical. With blue carpeting framed by mature trees on either side, it would be easy to get lost on a stroll through the forest.
But then it opens up into a beautiful grass facility smack dab between the forest and a massive set of bleachers for fans attending the spectacle.
Campbell made two things obvious in the auditorium before the trip. First, the coaching staff circled the two days of joint practices early. They were as important as any other part of training camp. Secondly, he brought out his best Thomas Shelby impersonation when he told his players not to fight. He wanted them to toe the line but not cross it.
Day 1 of joint practices
Jamaal Williams is a professional line-stepper. Hard Knocks featured him, as the kids would say, “vibing” before practice began, tossing the ball up into the stands to a small child. Running backs coach Duce Staley and wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El were not amused, joking that Williams could accidentally hurt someone and have to write a check.
Williams proceeded to win a few reps in pass protection against Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin. The running back then verbally assaulted the LB in celebration and did so a few more times, culminating in having the two separated by coaches after Franklin held the back on a route.
By the end of the scene, Staley had no voice left. After a poor team period, the voiceless coach held a harsh, high-pitched, low-volume thrashing of the performance he had just witnessed from the group.
Day 2 of joint practices
The second practice didn’t have nearly the focus we saw during the first, but the post-practice pow wow with coach Campbell was far more positive than the positional group with Staley the day before.
Preseason game against the Colts
The start of the game montage focused on running back Craig Reynolds, who finished the day with 37 yards on seven carries. Like any athlete fighting for a roster spot, Reynolds was upset with getting the plug pulled on his day.
After quickly featuring rookie receiver Kalil Pimpleton, the focus flipped to Malcolm Rodriguez again, who has somewhat stolen the show on Hard Knocks in the last two episodes. The undersized linebacker is a wrecking ball and an energizer bunny. His legs never stop moving, and he’s won favor with the coaching staff.
After that, David Blough’s revenge arc began. His fumble the week before aided in the Lions’ preseason loss to the Falcons. But Pimpleton was also part of this arc. Blough threw a late touchdown pass in the red zone, which tied the game at 13.
We eventually got back to Eze. On the 18th play of the drive, the Hard Knocks crew give us video of Eze helping to open up a rushing lane for Godwin Igwebuike, who scored just off the left tackle.
The defense needed to show some “grit” defending a two-point conversion attempt by the Colts, who had just scored to make it 26-27. The Lions’ defense did their job, creating pressure on quarterback Jack Coan, leading to a pass falling harmlessly to the turf.
Quick hits from Hard Knocks episode 3
- Comedian Josh Adams performed at the hotel. Instead of a more typical comedy set, the session turned into a roast of the entire roster, including first-round pick Aidan Hutchinson, who looks like a boy band member.
- Hard Knocks showed Craig Reynolds talking with his brother on video. He calls his brother before every football game he plays, but his older brother has been in prison since sixth grade and has never seen him play.
- Linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard tells the defense that veteran Alex Anzalone won’t play in the team’s next preseason game. He then tells rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriquez that he’s competing for a starting job at WILL, and once his reps in the game are up, he won’t be going back onto the field. He tried getting back on the field the game prior.
- Pimpleton was called to center stage in the auditorium, where he showed off some outstanding juggling skills in front of the entire roster, which was quite rowdy in their jeers of the rookie.