It was the final episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks featuring the Dallas Cowboys. It was time to wrap up the various storylines and look forward to the regular season.
The episode started with John Fassel expressing the opinion that running is a reward, not a punishment. It is strange to most of us, but he was trying to get his special teams players focused on putting maximum effort. I guess. I hated to run, back when I could.
Micah Parsons went all Linus Van Pelt (for you older types) by wearing a security blanket into a linebacker meeting. He got some welcome focus this episode, including personal coaching time with Cowboys legend DeMarcus Ware. The work on hand technique was a great example of the detail and precision that is often unappreciated, especially on defense. Ware has a unique perspective for the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, having played against Tom Brady when they were both a lot younger. And Alan Durde made clear that making Brady uncomfortable was a major priority.
Then the brain trust sat down to go over the cutdown, and the unique and abiding love that Mike McCarthy has for Ben DiNucci was again on display.
Isaac Alarcon has been one of the featured players all through Hard Knocks and was again this episode. Azur Kamara, JaQuan Hardy, and DiNucci also were shown as the pressure of the looming cuts bore down on them. This was naturally the main topic of the final episode, trying to build drama despite the roster decisions already being known. One quiet thing was how Ezekiel Elliott is providing his own leadership, explaining to Hardy what he was doing wrong and needed to change, and cheering him on when he got it right.
Trevon Diggs also got some more time. The use of a boxing glove during “Peanut punch” drills was interesting, and a smart way to cut down on hand injuries. A montage of Diggs making good plays and continuing his trash talk with Dak Pescott may offer hope that the Dallas secondary will be better this season. We will soon see.
And of course Trevon Diggs is the father of the real star of the entire season, Aaiden. While he was digging into (pun intended) a massive ice cream sundae, he did some high quality damage control for his confusing Prescott with Patrick Mahomes. He still is a bit muddled, but his handling of things could presage a career as a White House press secretary. Receiver is clearly not something he has a natural aptitude for, although his touchdown celebration is fire.
The show did offer coverage of Prescott and the rest of the team prepping for Tampa Bay, with the quarterback constantly leading and working. One thing that they were working very hard on was preparing for the Florida heat and humidity in the Texas heat and humidity.
Then it was time for cut day. Alarcon had his family with him for support, but it was time for his mother to head back home to Mexico. Along the way, she absolutely glowed with pride for how much he has already accomplished just by being with the organization for a second year. Alarcon had the insurance of being a practice squad exemption under the International Pathways program. But for the others who did not make the 53-man roster, there was a second hurdle to face, trying to join Alarcon on the PS. Will McClay explained how the rookies and players who were not vested veterans had to clear waivers. DiNucci was a classic case of trying to be positive despite clear disappointment on his face.
McCarthy is one of the head coaches who meets with every player who does not make the 53-man roster, and his interview with Alarcon was featured.
Running backs coach Skip Peete discussed with Hardy the opportunity of being on the PS represented. Like McCarthy, he focused on the desire of the team to help the players on the squad grow and develop. They could, after all, be called up to the 53-man roster at any time.
Then Kamara’s turn came, and for him, it was a very different outcome. McCarthy called him with the the news that he had made the 53-man roster. You could almost feel his heart pounding as he realized this dream had been achieved. And then the highlight of the episode, when he called and told his mother, whose celebration was just awesome.
One subplot that has also extended throughout the season is the apparent rehabilitation of Elliott’s image. He was shown handing out school supplies and clothing. And CeeDee Lamb showed off some shoes that no doubt had sneakerheads drooling.
Things wound up with McCarthy speaking to the entire roster and laying out what needed to be done, followed by Jerry Jones ruminating on the expectations for this season and the importance of his starting quarterback. He spoke of how intangibles, like Prescott has by the ton, are not things anyone has figured out how to proper valuate for the draft. HIs final words of wisdom were about how the past is gone, and the goal now is to make a run for a sixth Cowboys Lombardi trophy.
Hard Knocks is done. Football is here.
After every episode of Hard Knocks we have jumped on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel for a post-show discussion and with this being the finale we have a lot of things to chat about!
What’s more is that the Director of the show, Shannon Furman of NFL Films, has joined us. Join us live right here if you are catching this on Tuesday night or re-watch it along with everything else we do on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel (subscribe right here).