Sports: Hard Knocks Episode Three Review

by Hunter Richardson

Episode three of this season’s Hard Knocks featuring the Oakland Raiders offered an inside look into the wild drama that is Antonio Brown’s feet and helmet sagas, as head coach Jon Gruden continues to be the hilarious highlight of the show.

Despite being the most entertaining coach on the show by far since head coach Bill O’Brien of the Houston Texans, coach Gruden shared the spotlight in episode three with impressionist Frank Caliendo, who impersonated the coach in a team meeting.

But it is Antonio Brown who continues to find headlines in the news with his frostbitten feet and his ongoing helmet grievance with the NFL, whose new helmet rules outlaw the headgear he’s worn since his entrance into the league in 2010. The episode mostly shared behind the scenes highlights with the star wideout, whose past week delivered hope for Raider fans and, most notably, coach Gruden.

It seems that the helmet issue has finally reached a resolution, as Brown rejoined the team but sat out their most recent preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Brown dressed in full pads and was shown working with Derek Carr pregame before their second preseason game in Glendale, AZ. Showcasing Brown’s return to the team should give Raider fans a sense of relief, as he is shown to be all in and ready to go to produce some big numbers and give quarterback Derek Carr his best target so far in his career.

The helmet issue was a main focus in this episode, however, since there has been no clear resolution. This issue should not be a concern for Raider fans as the interactions about this situation seem to be more of a joke than a serious problem for the organization. However, at the end of the episode Mike Mayock tells reporters he wants Antonio Brown “All in or all out,” leaving fans anxious to how this saga will end and giving them a reason to look forward to next week’s episode.

Even with all of the Antonio Brown drama, the most entertaining part of this season of Hard Knocks has been the notorious quirky persona of coach Gruden. Caliendo’s rendition of this persona was the funniest part of the show thus far. The segment will leave fans in hysterical laughter, as Caliendo’s impersonation nails everything we’ve grown to love and hate about Gruden of his polarizing career.

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Impressionist Frank Caliendo posing with Raiders head coach Jon Gruden (Twitter/@FrankCaliendo)

In addition to looking at superstars Brown and Gruden, this season of Hard Knocks has introduced many players that we should lookout for this season who will hope to help the Raiders bounce back from two straight abysmal seasons.

Fan favorite, rookie safety Jonathan Abram has won over Raider fans with his intense and physical style of play, as well as his off the field character. Abram has proven to be a tone setter as this physical play transferred to the rest of the team in its second preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals as the first team defense ran through the Cardinals offensive line and shut down the number one overall pick, former Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. Episode three gives fans a better look at the improvements this team has made as it has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball.

A main question has been who will back up Derek Carr? The battle between the infamous Nathan Peterman, who once threw five interceptions in the first half of a game when playing for the Buffalo Bills, and veteran Mike Glennon, known for his lanky 6’6’’ frame, is an intriguing storyline. Both quarterbacks had a rough week in practice, but the game proved to make this competition for backup quarterback even closer as both Peterman and Glennon showed out this week. This will be predictably be a main topic of the show in the final two episodes as the preseason comes to a close.

Other featured players included tight ends Darren Waller and veteran Luke Willson. Waller was a tight end for the Baltimore Ravens who has battled and conquered drug addiction, and has proven to be a hidden gem for a team looking to replace their leading receiver last season, tight end Jared Cook. Episode three raised the level of the first two episodes, and fans should be excited for what is to come in episode four.

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