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‘Hard Knocks’: What to watch for with the Los Angeles Rams

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Football fans, the wait is almost over. And I am not talking about the NFL season kicking off, but the premiere of “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Los Angeles Rams”. The show will start its five episode run this Tuesday, August 9th at 10 pm EST on HBO.

If you are a fan of the NFL, then there is a pretty good chance you are also a fan of Hard Knocks. Every year the show gives us an inside look at a different team, getting to know the players and coaches, and getting an inside look at their training camp. And this season’s team is none other than the Los Angeles Rams.

Given the team is in a new city, has a big name rookie quarterback and one of the best running backs in the league, there will be plenty of interest in this years’ installment of the hit show. So let’s not waste any time, and delve into alll of those hot topics right now!

Welcome to Hollywood!

Given the team moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles this off season, I think it is a pretty safe bet they will highlight the new city from the very beginning of this season. The team is now playing in Hollywood, home of countless movie stars and big names. Will there be any cameos from some of Hollywood’s big names?

The move to a new city also comes with a new fan base. Hard Knocks will give us our first glimpse at the new fans, cheering on California’s newest team. The excitement is bound to be sky high, and seeing how crazy the fans are to have a team back in LA should be solid entertainment.

The move to Los Angeles also brings some awesome potential when it comes to the scenes when players are not at practice. Every year there are a few tremendous off the field scenes, and this year should be no different. Will we get a trip to some of LA’s biggest attractions? A trip to Disneyland for Todd Gurley perhaps?

Jared Goff, QB of the future … and the present?

Whenever a team has the first overall pick, that player instantly becomes a big deal. When that player is a quarterback, he becomes a big deal times one hundred. Then throw in the fact that he played for California and was drafted by a team playing in LA, and the talk goes up even more. Now finally, lets make this rookie one of the prime participants in an HBO show about football.

Well all of that applies to Jared Goff, the Rams big name rookie quarterback. Good enters camp in competition for the starting role with veteran Case Keenum. The competition is sure to be a big part of this season’s show. Goff is clearly the man for the future, but will he be ready come the start of the season. We should learn a lot while watching Hard Knocks.

Also we will get to know the rookie better, which should tell us about where he could be headed in his career. It is a unique situation, and one I know I will be watching very closely during this year’s Hard Knocks.

Todd Gurley, 2016-2017 MVP?

Todd Gurley is arguably the best running back in the NFL. Gurley is set to enter his second season in the NFL, and this will be his first full season, as he was hurt to start last year. That means this will be his first full training camp. And we will have a front row seat.

Seeing Gurley’s dedication in the gym and on the field should certainly be a highlight of the show. We know Gurley is a monster on the field, but now we get to see the work he puts in to get there. Gurley is certainly talented enough to be an MVP, but will he have enough around him to reach that level.

Hard Knocks should give us a glimpse as to whether the offensive line and/or quarterback situation will hinder his performance this season. If the team cannot move the ball passing, or the offensive line is shaky, then opposing defenses will stack the box and do everything they can to stop Gurley. Hard Knocks gives us that extended look into all of the variables, and should give fantasy players a little extra bit of information when it comes to drafting the Rams’ star player.

Any update on Tre Mason?

In one of the strangest pieces of news this off-season, the Rams have not heard from Tre Mason since the end of last season. In March, Mason was arrested on several accounts, including possession of marijuana and resisting arrest. At the start of camp, Mason did not show up, and the team placed him on Reserve/Did not report list.

It seems no one really knows what is going on with Mason. So will the show touch upon the situation? We will find out, and hope for a positive outcome.

Which pass catcher will step up?

The Rams may have a star running back, but their receiving options leave a lot to be desired. So as we enter Hard Knocks, the pass catchers will be worth monitoring, and see if anyone steps up.

Tavon Austin is an explosive player, but he is more of a kick returner. His route running is highly inconsistent, and he will need to become more polished to be a true stud at the position. Kenny Britt is the type of guy who has some skill, but he is more of a second or third option. He is known for his off the field issues as well, and needs to be looked upon as a secondary option and not the number one if the team wants to succeed. Brian Quick is the guy I will want to watch the closest. His upside is the highest on the team in my opinion, but he needs to prove himself. Lance Kendricks is set to take over as the top tight end, and needs to prove himself as well.

And those are just the top four names. The team is sure to have other names that get some screen time, and each is worth watching. Who will develop the best chemistry with the quarterbacks? Will we a receiver emerge like Chris Hogan, aka 711, did with the Miami Dolphins a few years back on Hard Knocks.

Gregg Williams and his defensive tactics

The teams defensive coordinator is none other than Gregg Williams. Yes, that Gregg Williams.

For those of you who do not know, Williams was suspended for the 2012 NFL season for his party in the bounty scandal during his time with the New Orleans Saints. Williams was a big influence on that clubhouse, and players were being paid to injury other players.

Now we have an inside look at Williams during camp. He is sure to bring a high intensity to his coaching style, but how intense is the question? While he obviously won’t be offering any bounties, it will be interesting to see Williams interact with his players.

The defense is loaded with talent, but how will it perform?

Speaking of the defense, how will the unit perform this season. The team is loaded with talent, but there has been some turnover. Janoris Jenkins is gone, as is James Laurinaitis. There will likely be four new starters when the season starts, so how well will the unit mesh?

But the talent is unquestioned. Aaron Donald is one of the best players in the entire league. Robert Quinn has the skills to be a sack machine. Michael Brockers  pairs with Donald to form one of the best duos in the entire league. Alec Ogletree learned from Laurinaitis for several seasons, and has plenty of talent in his own right.

The secondary may be a bit of a question however. But that is why Hard Knocks is such a cool show. We will get an early look at the unit as a whole, which will let us decide what will be the team’s weakness. Who will step up for the team on the defensive side of the ball? There is a boatload of talent, now let’s see it up close and personal.

Jeff Fisher, the man in charge

Jeff Fisher is the team’s head coach. And on Hard Knocks, the head coach always gets his fair share of attention. So it will be interesting to see how he interacts with his players. He is usually all business on the sidelines, so maybe we see a lighter side of Fisher on the show.

The head coach is always a highlight, and I expect Fisher to be no different. So when Hard Knocks gets rolling on Tuesday, be prepared to learn more about the Los Angeles Rams’ lead man.

Got all of that? To put it simply, there are plenty of storylines for Hard Knocks to follow this season. Hopefully they will touch upon each and every one of these topics at least a little bit. Goff, Gurley and Fisher are pretty good bets to be the main players each of the five weeks.

But who will emerge as the lovable underdog, which happens every season? Who will play the Brian Cushing villain role? Will Aaron Donald prove himself to be one of the top talents in the NFL to the entire NFL fan-base, becoming this seasons’ JJ Watt? So many questions as the show approaches.

Only one way to know the answer to those questions, and that is turning on the television this Tuesday at 10 pm EST. Don’t miss you, as Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Los Angeles Rams promises to be an excellent installment of the best NFL show on television. Plus it will help you forget we are still a few weeks away from NFL season to officially kick off.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com