Atlanta Falcons

HBO 'Hard Knocks' 2014: Dates, TV Schedule and Falcons Preview

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) huddles with members of the offense including; tackle Sam Baker (72), wide receiver Roddy White (84), and tight end Levine Toilolo (80) during the Falcons annual event, Friday Night Lights, at Archer High School Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in Lawrenceville, Ga. The Falcons continued their tradition of staging a practice at an area high school each year. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)
Jason Getz/Associated Press
Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2014

The HBO show Hard Knocks has become a phenomenon among football fans, and the 2014 edition of the series begins tonight at 10 p.m. ET with this year’s focus on the Atlanta Falcons.

Each season HBO selects one team to follow during training camp and preseason, and the resulting episodes show the inner workings of a franchise in the NFL. With Atlanta coming off a terrible year and looking to build excitement for 2014, what better way to do so than by opening the doors to football fans and letting them have a vested interest in the players?

Hard Knocks will create a few more Falcons fans.

Here is the full television schedule with dates and a preview of what NFL fans should expect from Atlanta.

2014 Hard Knocks Dates and TV Schedule
ShowDateTime (ET)
DebutTuesday, August 510 p.m.
Debut ReplayWednesday, August 611 p.m.
Episode 2Tuesday, August 1210 p.m.
Episode 2 ReplayWednesday, August 1311 p.m.
Episode 3Tuesday, August 1910 p.m.
Episode 3 ReplayWednesday, August 2011 p.m.
Episode 4Tuesday, August 2610 p.m.
Episode 4 ReplayWednesday, August 2711 p.m.
Season FinaleTuesday, September 210 p.m.
Source: HBO.com

 The show can also be viewed on HBO GO, according to the service's Twitter account:

Atlanta Falcons Bring Desperation to Hard Knocks

The Falcons finished the 2013 season with an abysmal 4-12 record, and many of the coaches and players understand that they must perform better right away in 2014 or there will be serious repercussions.

The pressure is building in Atlanta, and fans with HBO will be able to witness the intense competition of training camp as tempers boil over. It starts in the first episode when defensive end Kroy Biermann and rookie offensive tackle Jake Matthews get into a fight.

Andrew Siciliano of NFL Network shares the teaser video of the battle and his excitement for Episode 1:

The preview shows the struggles Biermann was facing as he tried to get his timing down and the frustration it caused. Matthews was fighting to prove he belongs in the NFL, and the two men butted heads in what should be the first of many fights over the course of the preseason.

The nonchalant way in which the coaches handled the situation also suggests that a bit of legitimate frustration during competition is a good thing. These men are fighting for their jobs, and the intensity level picking up on the first day showed how ready they are to work.

Whether you’re a fan of the Falcons or not, the teaser video should have everyone intrigued.

When asked about the number of fights and the physical nature of training camp, Atlanta head coach Mike Smith told D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the focus on amping up the intensity this season:

I think that physicality is an emphasis point that we’ve been talking about not only at the beginning of training camp but also at the end of the season. The first thing we evaluated was that we needed to be a more physical football team, and you can’t just say you’re going to be a more physical football team you’ve got to go out and do it and prove it every day.

Smith’s words have the excitement level rising, and even Hard Knocks supervising producer and director Rob Gehring took to Twitter to thank the men and women who worked so hard to make the show possible:

With cameras all over the practice facilities and a 30-member crew working to make the show possible, per Ledbetter, football fans should be excited for an inside look at a NFL team as it prepares for the regular season.

Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank has been a steady presence at training camp, and players understand that the expectations from the team include reaching the playoffs this season. The entire franchise is focused on the postseason, and the resulting positional battles across the depth chart will be a major talking point of the show.

A hamstring injury already to running back Steven Jackson, the return of wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones from last season’s injuries and the emergence of Levine Toilolo as the starting tight end after Tony Gonzalez’s retirement are also storylines to watch.

Add in the veterans, rookies and undrafted free agents looking to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, and the natural tension and drama involved with the build to the regular season makes Hard Knocks a must-watch show.

 

*Stats via NFL.com.

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