HBO 'Hard Knocks' 2021: Best Cowboys Storylines, Moments, Reaction for Episode 2

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 18, 2021

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) stretches with teammate running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) during an NFL football practice in Frisco, Texas, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
AP Photo/LM Otero

The second week of HBO's Hard Knocks released Tuesday night, following the Dallas Cowboys as they entered their second preseason game. 

The episode opened with the team doing yoga together:

NFL Films @NFLFilms

"Happy place...think of a happy place."<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/9g01EWpAsJ">pic.twitter.com/9g01EWpAsJ</a>

It then transitioned to Ezekiel Elliott and his need for some, um, baby power. 

NFL Films @NFLFilms

Training camp is about being prepared for ANY situation. πŸ˜…πŸ’¨ <a href="https://twitter.com/EzekielElliott?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@EzekielElliott</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a>: The <a href="https://twitter.com/dallascowboys?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DallasCowboys</a> returns at 10pm on <a href="https://twitter.com/hbomax?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@HBOMax</a>! <a href="https://t.co/UKErJx90mp">pic.twitter.com/UKErJx90mp</a>

The episode also spent time focusing on the team's defensive line coach, Aden Durde, who is originally from London and spent five years playing in NFL Europe. 

One highlight was a reporter asking Durde if he has heard of Ted Lasso, the television show about an American coaching a Premier League soccer team in England. Durde, in a sense, is the Reverse Lasso. 

Brooke Pryor @bepryor

Would absolutely LOVE a Ted Lasso x Aden Durde crossover episode

Boston Connor @BostonConnr

β€œHe sounds like Winston Churchill” - Jerry Jones on Aden Durde

Part of the week covered by the Hard Knocks cameras included a scrimmage with the Los Angeles Rams. As they often do, a scuffle broke out between the teams, instigated by Rams defensive end Aaron Donald and the Cowboys offensive linemen he was mostly dominating getting into it:

NFL Films @NFLFilms

Tempers flaring πŸ‘€<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/ZbFQUIGEwB">pic.twitter.com/ZbFQUIGEwB</a>

The first episode last week focused heavily on quarterback Dak Prescott, attempting to return this season after a gruesome ankle injury last year. Prescott was taken out of practices with a shoulder strain previously, though he returned to a light throwing regimen in this week's episode. 

One of Prescott's top targets this season will be second-year wideout CeeDee Lamb, who has been impressing at this year's training camp:

NFL Films @NFLFilms

.<a href="https://twitter.com/_CeeDeeThree?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@_CeeDeeThree</a>'s been the talk of camp, but he's not satisfied. πŸ—£οΈ<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/FHVdJjVy59">pic.twitter.com/FHVdJjVy59</a>

Lamb, wearing No. 88, is trying to live up to the legacy of that particular number after Cowboys' receiver legends like Drew Pearson, Michael Irvin and Dez Bryant wore it. 

The close of the episode focused on the team's second preseason game, a 19-16 loss that saw most of the starters playing briefly or watching from the bench. 

At its best, Hard Knocks tells the stories of the players on the fringes of the roster, desperately trying to make the team. The personalities of star players and coaches may be interesting, but the stories of players trying to stick in the NFL is always the most compelling television. 

This week focused on Azur Kamara, a second-year edge rusher from Kansas who was signed as an undrafted free agent last year but missed the entirety of the 2020 season on injured reserve. Kamara spent the first 10 years of his life in the Ivory Coast before coming to the United States. 

Patrik [No C] Walker @VoiceOfTheStar

HBO showing Kamara's story is wonderful for a myriad of reasons -- one of which being a reminder to those who need it that these men are not just numbers on a shirt.<br><br>Many have overcome a ton to get a single shot at this. <br><br>Respect.

David Helman @HelmanDC

Azur Kamara has one of the more interesting stories in the entire NFL. I remember reading about it when he signed last year. Probably fair to say he has been underreported since he got here, but COVID is a bitch.

Michael Gehlken @GehlkenNFL

DE Azur Kamara is the first Cowboys roster-bubble player to have his background story featured on this Hard Knocks season. Show chose a good one. Kamara, an Ivory Coast native, has received quality reps in camp on special teams. Still a difficult road to 53.

Clarence Hill Jr @clarencehilljr

i feel bad for Kamara...His family is precious. Give that man his game-clinching sack

Against the Cardinals, Kamara thought he had a game-winning sack and forced fumble to put on his resume, only to see the play wiped out on an offsides call. 

Making the team won't be easy for the young edge-rusher, and following his story throughout the rest of Hard Knocks as he looks to make the final roster will be one of the points of intrigue.