CAMP FIGHTS (and TOP HARD KNOCKS MOMENTS)
If you're an NFL player, mid August is a restless time.
The least wonderful time of the year.
You have the heat, the humidity and oh boy all the hitting.
You're tired of hitting your teammates for sure but the dog days of Training Camp often coincide with joint practices where quickly you grow tired of hitting another team in practice too.
So when tempers flair, fists fly and camp fights breakout no one should be surprised as they did with the Bucs and Jaguars this week in Jacksonville.
(Will Dickey/Florida Times Union)
The preseason is way too long, granted not as long as it used to be with two a days but it remains the toughest preamble in sports. Spring Training can't hold a candle to the demands of NFL Camps and while the NHL preseason routine remains a close second, hockey players schedule is less daunting.
All of us grew tired of our college roommates at times, these NFL players are feeling the same cabin fever where camp fights are just one way to express their frustration.
I asked Bucs coach Dirk Koetter if the three fights that broke out between the Bucs and Jags this week was par for the course? He concurred.
"There was talk going on on both sides. That's part of it, that's part of doing it. I thought the coaching staffs on both sides were – on the field I was on – the coaches handled it fine," Koetter said.
"You keep playing. Both teams knew that if it was out of hand they were going to get kicked out. Like I said, I wasn't on those fields so I can't really say more than that."
The coaches aren't fazed by these preseason fistacuffs, the players know they are part of the deal so it amazes me when many are surprised when they take place. The only place I've never seen these break out is New England where it seems Belichick more than warns his guys to keep it businesslike. Just more uniqueness from the "Patriot Way."
The Jaguars didn't have a single fight against the Pats last week and in my two trips to Foxboro with the Saints, I didn't see anything close to any altercations.
That's clearly the exception, not the rule.
August is a hot month in many ways, especially if you're grinding through the dog days of a monotonous grind it out Training Camp.
Better be in shape and while you're at it, watch your back.
BUCS HARD KNOCKS....the SEQUEL
(TOP FIVE MOMENTS)
While we can count on camp fights this time of year, we also know Hard Knocks will consistently deliver. It's clear the Bucs rendition is already much more entertaining than last year's offering by the Rams.
ALOT more personality on both sides of the football.
The second episode like they all do--simply had it all even if you're not a football fan. It's the first time I've covered a camp with all those Hard Knocks cameras and what has amazed me is that they rarely get in the way---I thought the NFL Films crew would be much more obtrusive.
Round two of Bucs' Hard Knocks had lots of great moments but here is my top five:
(1) WINSTON'S EXAMPLE: At the end of the day, no Buccaneer may benefit more from this show than Jameis Winston. His national narrative was of an immature quarterback but with every episode you see how much he means to this team besides what he does on the field.
His biggest moment was casually yet effectively walking up to two backup lineman in James Stone and James Harrison on the sideline while they were laughing to remind them, "I'm happy y'all are having fun, but (qb Ryan Griffin) just hurt his shoulder. So keep having fun."
WInston was refering to backup quarterback Ryan Griffin leavin the game with a shoulder injury. Stone and Harrison's demeanor changed in an instant--another example of the leader Winston is and the immense respect he commands on the sideline and in the locker room.
I would love to see a national poll of Winston's Q rating before and then after Hard Knocks.
(2) SUPER McCOY: While Winston is weekly protagonist in this rendition of Hard Knocks, the biggest co-star is All Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy who gave us the many layers of his personality in episode two.
We learned McCoy has a few moves, mocking the league's celebration rules and we also discovered his infinity for superheroes as he showed off his life size Super Man in his rather unique man cave which boasted a wide variety of Marvel Comics memorabilia.
Gerald had an interesting goal of one day wanting to get hit by a Superhero--seems he may be angling for a movie role one day. Well played Gerald and good luck with that.
(3) AGUAYO'S MOMENT: The toughest yet most compelling parts of this show is watching players get cut. New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton has made it known he never wants to partcipate in Hard Knocks, saying this is the biggest reason---some things should be sacred between coach and player.
Well not in his case and while the quick fall of Bucs Kicker Roberto Aguayo was the story of the week---I appreciated the way all parties handled it on camera.
Aguayo didn't point any fingers and it was good to see the man who drafted him, Bucs GM Jason Licht not just pass it off to Koetter---really compelling television. It still amazes me, we get to watch it.
(4) THE GRIMES FAMILY: Hard Knocks picked a great time to profile Bucs defensive back Brent Grimes and his controversial wife Miko who didn't disappoint.
She has no filter on Twitter and didn't take her foot off the accelerator in front of those Hard Knocks cameras. You got a much better feel of how their dynamic worked as a couple and when Grimes was hurt at a recent practice, it was interesting to see Miko's take where as you would expect she was front and center filming it all and showing it to everyone around her. She also showed everyone a nasty photo of the injury, expect more Miko in the coming weeks.
(5) THE LIFE OF "RILEY": Bucs undrafted rookie linebacker Riley Bullough wasn't a one hit wonder. The bad news for this year's diamond in the rough Hard Knocks star is the "Joe Dirt" nickname isn't going away for the long haired newbie out of Michigan State.
Bullough remains a good sport though and it was great television to see him interact with his parents before his first NFL game and then have him continually to be vocal during practice and in games.
These are the kind of players you root for and the kind of stories Hard Knocks captures best.
Can't wait for next Tuesday!