With two episodes already in the books, we have a pretty good idea of who the characters are on this team. They did plenty to entertain us again this week.
The Bengals continued their preseason success with a 27-19 win over the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, but the show gave us much more to digest about these 2013 Bengals. Here are the best storylines and moments to watch.
James Harrison: Acupuncture Enthusiast?
Fearsome linebacker James Harrison may have voiced his displeasure with the HBO film crew invading the team's privacy, but that didn't stop the show from featuring the veteran in this episode. The crew got a sneak peek into Harrison getting acupuncture to prepare his body for the grueling the season ahead.
So first James Harrison says he doesn't want the Hard Knocks cameras around & then they show him getting needles stuck into his bare ass.— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) August 21, 2013
The segment was a reminder that the secret to the 35-year-old Harrison's success in the NFL can be traced to his attention to detail and commitment to the game. As ESPN's Bomani Jones pointed out, the show has also served as a weekly reminder that Harrison is an all-around scary guy.
apparently, the fear of james harrison takes more than two weeks to dissipate. #hardknocks— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) August 21, 2013
Harrison will definitely bring an edge to this Bengals defense that they might not have had otherwise.
Rookies Get Chance to Cut Loose During Talent Show
NFL training camps aren't the best experience in the world for rookies. Not only do they have to worry about job security a little more than the veterans, they are usually on the receiving end of some initiation rituals, bad hair cuts and are forced to sing their alma mater, regardless of singing ability.
After weeks of being treated like the low guys on the totem pole, the rookies finally got their chance to hit back at the veterans during the "talent show" portion of the episode.
The rookies took some of the team's veterans to task as wide receivers A.J. Green and Andrew Hawkins were clowned on for their lingering injuries while offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth was compared to the boxer Butterbean.
But wide receiver Roy Roundtree's impersonation of safety Taylor Mays as a princess stole the show, as Sean O'Donnell of Bleacher Report noted.
@joereedy You mean the biggest thing wasn't Roundtree's impression of Taylor Mays?— Sean O'Donnell (@SeanODonnellNFL) August 21, 2013
The roast-style talent show wasn't completely football related, but it did illustrate the bonding process that goes on behind the scenes at an NFL training camp.
Coaching Staff Continues to Showcase Personality
Marvin Lewis has already been spotlighted on the Hard Knocks series before, but defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and running backs coach Hue Jackson have both been prominent figures in the series this year. That trend continued in Episode 3.
Both Vontaze Burfict and Adam "Pacman" Jones shared a little bit about what Zimmer has meant to them on and off the field. As CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman pointed out, it was probably as good a compliment as any NFL coach can really hope to receive.
The back-to-back Pac-Man/Vontaze Burfict comments abt Mike Zimmer may be as good a testimony as any NFL coach can ever get.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) August 21, 2013
Players weren't the only ones singing Zimmer's praise, though. Jackson had good things to say about Zimmer's abilities as a coach, per The Cincinnati Enquirer:
Jackson had some wisdom to pass along to his players, too.
Former NFL running back Rock Cartwright took to Twitter to praise his former coach:
Coach Hue Jackson ain't changed 1 bit since the day I met him in 2002.. #leaderofmen#HardKnocks— Rock Cartwright (@Rockgotti25) August 21, 2013
Bengals Rosters Starts to Take Shape
One of the most difficult parts of the Hard Knocks series to watch is when the team has to make roster cuts. While we know that players like starting quarterback Andy Dalton—regardless of how quirky he may be—will make the team, there are still players the team won't be able to keep on the final roster.
Flossing before a game is the most Andy Dalton thing ever. #HardKnocks— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) August 21, 2013
Former tight end Orson Charles survived this week's round of cuts as he transitions to fullback. The show gave us an inside look at his progression at a new position, and the coaches must have liked what they saw because he'll live to see another week with the team.
Aaron Maybin wasn't as fortunate, though. The former first-round pick proved to be a talented painter off the field on the show, but he had his fair share of struggles during camp and was cut from the team, per Pro Football Talk.
Hard Knocks chronicles the end of the line for Aaron Maybin http://t.co/LR2gO79d3z— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 21, 2013
If anything can be learned from Maybin's story, it's the incredible amount of work that it takes to make it in the NFL. Contrasted with James Harrison's opening scene, Maybin's talent was simply not enough to advance past this point of camp.
With the preseason not quite finished yet, it will be interesting to see if any other big-name players don't make the Bengals final roster.
Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals will continue its five-episode season Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO. There is also an encore every Wednesday at 11:00 p.m., culminating with the Sept. 3 season finale.