HBO's production crew has managed to find new ways to bring us something we haven't seen before, so that even when we know what's coming, there are still plenty of good reasons to watch Hard Knocks.
And plenty of things to learn.
In fact, this week was the first time in the history of the series where we've gotten first-hand insight as to what goes into a trade.
With training camp winding down and the regular season approaching, players are doing anything they can to prove themselves, while coaches are doing everything they can to improve the roster and make sure they have the best possible 53 men available on game day.
Here are just a few of the things we learned from this week's episode of Hard Knocks.
Sometimes, knowing when your time is up can be even tougher than gutting out more practice.
That time came for veteran guard Eric Steinbach, who announced his retirement last week.
"It's tough to admit," said Steinbach. "I think if you're a competitor or an athlete, you never want to say it's your last go-around, but when you wake up every morning and feel like [expletive] for the first half of practice before you can even feel warmed up, it's tough."
But Steinbach has a good mentality about it: at least he tried.
"It's better closure, I think for me, to leave on this note," said Steinbach, "versus if I wouldn't have tried making a comeback. it didn't work out, but at least I know now. It ain't gonna haunt me like it would have if I would have never attempted it."
He can sling a pretty football, but can't tell you who's in the AFC South.
You would expect one of the top-rated quarterbacks in April's draft to know the NFL inside and out. Not Ryan Tannehill.
"I wasn't a huge pro fan growing up; I wasn't loyal to any one team," said Tannehill, "so I don't really know the divisions, and even really conferences. I know most of the conferences but some of those, I really have no clue. And they don't make sense. You have the AFC East, and we're freaking in the bottom of the map, and the directions don't make any sense where the teams actually are."
"I know our division," said Tannehill, who was then pop-quizzed on the divisions by fellow quarterback Matt Moore.
The veteran quarterback had Tannehill start with the NFC North, and gave him an assist by starting with the Green Bay Packers. Tannehill picked up the Vikings, but couldn't remember the other two teams, listing the New York Giants before Moore scoffed at him.
He later confused the Kansas City Chiefs for an NFC East team.
He'll have plenty of time to get familiar with the divisions, but first I'm sure the Dolphins would like him to get familiar with his receivers—or perhaps for his receivers to get familiar with him.
Thomas was a second-round pick out of Kansas State in the 2011 draft, but along with the trade of Vontae Davis (more on that later), it seems draft status has nothing to do with job security.
Over the course of a couple of days, Daniel Thomas was late for a team flight, was out of dress code for the trip and was late for a weight lifting session.
"I'm getting a little queasy about you," said Philbin to Thomas in a private chat. "You've got to take responsibility for your own career."
It is becoming increasingly clear that Philbin will tolerate absolutely no nonsense when it comes to players showing responsibility for their actions and for themselves. I wonder, though, if Philbin consulted the leadership council before having this most recent pep-talk.
Les Brown's story was one of the first we were introduced to at the beginning of Hard Knocks, but his name was among the first wave of cuts.
But his coaching staff wanted to make sure that he knew his journey didn't have to be over if he didn't want it to be.
"You've got nothing to be ashamed of," said tight end coach Dan Campbell. "You've got nothing to feel bad about. You're a freaking stud, Les. ... If [football is] something you still want to try, I would just beef up. I wouldn't give up."
Les saw a decreasing number of reps on the practice field over the past week, and saw very limited action in the most recent preseason game against the Falcons.
"If he's not in, he can't catch a pass," said his girlfriend, Jamie Lynn Crandall.
It was tough to watch. But hey, at least he'll get to see more of his girlfriend looking hot. As usze.
But this could be just the beginning.
"This won't be the last you guys see of me," said Brown, "that's for sure."
Ireland and Campbell both mentioned that Les has the added benefit of knowing what his weakness is, and now that it's something he can work on, he can gear his training toward becoming a complete football player so that his fate might be different the next time around.
If anyone thought the Dolphins didn't get the better end of the deal before, they probably should now.
Colts owner Jim Irsay sent a text message to Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland before the Dolphins preseason game against the Falcons asking about a trade. The offer started as a fifth- and a sixth-round pick, moving all the way up to a second- and conditional sixth-round pick.
"Is this guy in the long-term plans?" Jeff Ireland asked, talking about the deal over the phone. "And if not, then we should consider that. If he is then—I mean, I know what he does for us this year. He's a contributing player, gonna play quite a bit. He is developing."
Davis was flagged for a pass interference penalty on what would have been an interception return for a touchdown in the game.
"The interception was ridiculous," said defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, "he took a guy and threw 'em to the ground."
In the end, it was the issues with consistency that did him in.
"You're kind of up and down, we've got to get it to where it's a little small wave, where the consistency level is more consistent."
We saw a very shaken Davis react to the trade, asking if he could call his grandmother to fill her in on the news. Jeff Ireland wished him luck, and sent him quickly on his way to avoid the incoming storm.
Unless specified otherwise, all quotes obtained via HBO's original broadcast of Hard Knocks.