Episode 2 of “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Detroit Lions” is in the book, and, as expected, Tuesday’s episode featured the players more heavily. Sure, there was still ample Dan Campbell and Duce Staley, but the documentary series is starting to tackle the biggest storylines with the players.
Stars like D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown were heavily featured, but so were the scrappy players making sure they want to lock up a roster spot like rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez and quarterback David Blough.
Here are the best quotes from Tuesday night’s episode.
1. “Reynolds, that a baby. That’s so good. I’d kiss you right now if you weren’t breathing so hard.” — Dan Campbell
Let’s kick this list off with a pure Campbellism. Josh Reynolds and DJ Chark haven’t gotten much screen time despite dominating camp, but after a nice play from Reynolds, Campbell had to give it up (not literally).
2. “This year can be whatever you want it to be. Everything’s open for you right now. You got me? You just gotta go take it and do it.” — Lions LB coach Kelvin Sheppard on Rodriguez
If you thought the Malcolm Rodriguez hype was media-driven or just lip service from the coaching staff, this episode will set you straight. Sheppard told it straight to Rodriguez here, he could have a huge rookie season, despite being a sixth-round pick. I think we’re talking beyond just being a starter in Year 1.
And if that wasn’t enough to drive the point home, Sheppard really laid into Rodriguez love in a meeting in the linebackers' room.
3. “I’m fucking sick of saying this about a rookie. What do y’all want me to do, put him out there first? Cause that’s what’s about to happen. This ain’t nothing against you, Rodriguez. Matter of fact, you’re fucking playing your ass off, dude. But it’s a rookie who I’m doing everything I can, not to put out here first.” — Sheppard to LB room about Rodriguez
Remember that these episodes are essentially airing a week late, because Sheppard followed up on his word. Rodriguez has now been regularly getting first-team reps. But we have to throw one more quote about Rodriguez in here, because it’s truly remarkable how much the young kid is catching on right now.
4. “I had a coach that has been in this building for five years tell me he hasn’t seen a linebacker make that type of play since he’s been here. Y’all need to know this type of shit. This shit don’t need to be a secret. A coach that’s been in this building for five years said he’s not seen a stack linebacker make this type of play. That is fucking high linebacker play right there. I love it. I love it, 44.” — Sheppard
Whew. Let’s take a cold shower and move on.
5. “I need (D’Andre) Swift to believe he’s the best every time he steps on the fucking field. I need him to know when he’s one-on-one—no matter if he’s running a route or he has the ball in his hands—no one can guard him or tackle him. I want him to go to Dan (Campbell) at halftime and go, ‘Coach, I want the ball.’
“And he got it. It’s in there. Boy is special. And every day we go out there between those lines, he’s got to believe that. And I’ma try my hardest to get that shit out of him. Ain’t no try, I’m going to fucking get it out of him. Because he can be so special. I’ve been around some guys that’s been in space—the special ones—he got it.” — Duce Staley to coaches on D’Andre Swift
This was a fascinating episode about Duce Staley’s and Swift’s relationship. You can see the frustration building up in Staley because he knows Swift can be an elite player, but Swift just hasn’t reached his full potential yet. Throughout the episode, we see Staley give encouragement to Swift, but also get stern with him when he messes up.
Things get even more interesting when the preseason game rolls around because Swift gets admonished from the sidelines for his first two runs—the second, in particular, after Swift bounces it outside with a hole up the middle. You can see the tough love working on Swift, though, because even though he scores a touchdown at the end of the drive, he walks immediately to Staley to see what went wrong on the earlier run.
6. “I’ll tell you what I love about you, you’re speaking without your fucking mouth. You’re just like earning it, which is exactly why we wanted to get you. Because you just fucking go do what you’re doing.” — Campbell to Aidan Hutchinson
I get the feeling we’re going to get Campbell loving on Aidan Hutchinson every single episode.
7. “For me, I would say the draft experience was shitty. I can tell you all 16 receivers (that were drafted before me) and where they went to college.” — Amon-Ra St. Brown
We knew St. Brown has been salty about the draft ever since he was picked at the start of Day 3. But it was still astonishing to see him rattle off all 16 receivers who went before him in the draft and the colleges they went to.
8. “Oh, we’re drinking water now? What happened to your spit.” — John Brown
So much of Amon-Ra St. Brown can be explained by the attitude of his father. And the shot at Kevin Durant? Oh man, you know he’s going to see that and eventually comment on it.
9. “Time to get that feeling back.” — Aaron Glenn to entire Lions team
Aaron Glenn is a pretty special coach, and “Hard Knocks” has really only scratched the surface as to why that is. But Campbell ceded the team-meeting floor to Glenn in this episode and the Lions' defensive coordinator gave a stirring speech on the power of belief and turning around a reputation.
He asked Michael Brockers about the feeling of going into each game when he was with the 13-1 LSU Tigers in 2011. Same question to Jonah Jackson for his time with the 2019 Buckeyes who also went 13-1. Both players agreed there wasn’t just a belief every week that they would win, but they knew it. That’s what Glenn is trying to bring to Detroit. Time to get that feeling back.
10. “For some of you, this is preseason. For some of you, this determines your fucking season. And if you ain’t down to fight for the man next to you, stay your ass in the locker room and when the true warriors walk out, you can go the fuck home.” — Duce Staley
Now we know where Jamaal Williams got his motivational speech skills from.
11. “Did the hard part, just got to finish it.” — David Blough
It’s impossible to talk about this episode without mentioning David Blough. It was devastating watching him fumble the game away and the emotional toll it took on him on the sidelines, in the locker room, and even after the game with his wife. You saw players try to encourage him, but he couldn’t shake the frustration. In the end, this was all he could mutter to himself.
12. “Dude, your trash talk sucks” — Frank Ragnow to Hank Fraley’s son
The credit scenes are always classic on “Hard Knocks,” and this week’s set of clips did not disappoint. Hank Fraley’s son is a little firecracker, talking trash to all of the Lions players. You’ve got to have a lot of confidence to tell Penei Sewell to stop sitting down and stand up with his teammates. But Frank Ragnow was not having any of the kid’s sass.