Arguably the biggest thrill of the first episode of any season of Hard Knocks is the Oklahoma drill, where blockers line up with would-be tacklers in order to create a running lane for a back. It's football in a fishbowl: two players trying to knock each other down, and a running back trying to gain a few yards, all as quickly and violently as possible.
Leading up to the drill, the Hard Knocks cameras caught tight end Jermaine Gresham asking to take on the Bengals' top defensive player, tackle Geno Atkins. Gresham got his wish and, surprisingly, knocked Atkins down.
Granted, Gresham may have cheated by getting a head start on Atkins, but that didn't make his feat of strength and will any less impressive, considering Atkins had 12.5 sacks last season. And, as always, the Oklahoma drill provided the requisite goosebumps that help make the NFL so compelling.
Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals kicks off its five-episode eighth season, presented in HD, Tuesday, Aug. 6 (10 p.m. ET), exclusively on HBO. Other hour-long episodes debut subsequent Tuesdays at the same time, with an encore play every Wednesday at 11:00 p.m., culminating in the Sept. 3 season finale.