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Noted & quoted: The best moments from Episode 5 of ‘Hard Knocks’

Training camp comes to a close with final cuts

Last week, we met Los Angeles Rams head strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson. He’s perhaps known to some on the team as the “grim reaper” because one of his unofficial jobs is notifying players that they will be cut.

In Tuesday’s season finale of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Los Angeles Rams, Gullickson was busy. With the NFL regular season set begin this week, the Rams had to trim their roster from 75 players to the final 53-man squad that will take the field in their season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.

So, 22 players were let go — some of whom were the most exciting personalities on Hard Knocks this season. While a few were offered spots to stay with the team on the Rams’ practice squad, others were left with more uncertainty — in search of a new job, with a new team in a new city.

To wrap up the 11th season of Hard Knocks, here is a series of the most memorable moments from episode five, as told through the best things four Rams players who were cut had to say.


first down

“I’m done, bro. That’s a wrap. I’m off the team, bro. I know I am.” — Rams wide receiver Paul McRoberts

If you remember from earlier in the preseason, the 18-year-old stepbrother of Rams rookie wide receiver Paul McRoberts was murdered. In a tough and emotional decision, McRoberts decided to remain with the team and fight for a roster spot as an undrafted rookie. He made it past the first round of cuts and to the final preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, in which he muffed a punt and fumbled the ball for a turnover. Immediately after this moment, the Hard Knocks cameras capture McRoberts coming to a certain realization: “I’m cut, bro,” he says. Luckily, later that game he caught a touchdown pass. And though he was cut, the Rams decided to keep him on their 10-man practice squad. Congrats, bro.

Second down

“Your uncle would be proud of you, man.” — Rams defensive line coach Mike Waufle to defensive end Ian Seau

 

One of the players who didn’t make it past final cuts was defensive end Ian Seau, the nephew of the late Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau. The cameras followed Seau’s progress a lot this season, often showing his sister Shannalei Seau watching preseason games from the crowd or from home when the team was on the road. There’s no question that Seau’s bloodline translates to skill on the field. But as Rams defensive end coach Mike Waufle advises after he’s cut, Seau needs to get bigger and stronger to succeed at the NFL level. Shout-out to Waufle for ending the meeting by saying he’s sure his late uncle would be proud of how far his nephew has come.

third down

“Today sucks, man. Packing up all my tank tops. But that’s just part of the business. Part of the journey.” — center Eric Kush

Center Eric Kush was one of the stars of this season of Hard Knocks. From his obsession with tank tops to his wacky blond hairdo that he gets trimmed and styled in the season finale, what was not to love about this big fella? Unfortunately, the Rams decided to go with another offensive lineman and, perhaps to the shock of many viewers, cut Kush. Though he won’t be playing in Los Angeles this season, that doesn’t mean he’s not worthy of being on an NFL roster. The Chicago Bears immediately picked up Kush after the Rams released him. Chicago is Kush’s sixth team in two seasons.

fourth down

“You know, I’ve been cut multiple times and you always think that it’s going to be like easier each time, but it’s really not. It’s a job that I really want to be able to have and it’s just hard getting in. I’m just hoping that I’ll get the chance to prove myself one day. So I’ll stay ready. I’ll just stay ready.” — wide receiver Austin Hill

Wide receiver Austin Hill was hands down my favorite player this season. He seems to genuinely love the game of football and works hard to provide a good life for his daughter Rielyn. As much as we wanted it to happen, the chances of Hill making the team seemed to be pretty slim all preseason. We were all waiting for the inevitable and when it came, it was hard to bear, even for Gullickson, who painfully had to grab him at the end of the finale and say, “Austin, I have some bad news for you. We have to go see coach.” One of the final scenes of the episode is of Hill, his girlfriend and Rielyn at home playing the game Hedbanz after he’s cut. During this moment, he truthfully (and very sadly) explains what being cut means for his daughter: “Rielyn’s lucky. She’s still young. She doesn’t really understand all of it. It’d be a lot harder to be doing all of this if she was older. That’s for sure.”

fresh set of downs

Here, I’ll give you some quick-hit moments from the episode that are worth highlighting.

  • Rams defensive back Lamarcus Joyner had quite the moment in the finale. He thought about quitting the team because he wasn’t a starter. “Coach, I love this game. I can go work at Wal-Mart. I don’t need these people’s money,” he told Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. Fortunately, Fisher talked him off the ledge by making sense of his role in the defense and he’s still on the team. Crisis averted.
  • Rams defensive end William Hayes is the godfather of fellow Rams defensive end Robert Quinn’s daughter. In the finale, the baby is wearing a “Mermaid vibes” onesie in honor of her godfather’s love for mermaids.
  • Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall pick by the Rams in the 2016 NFL draft, is starting the NFL regular season on the bench as the team’s third-string quarterback. He’s inactive for the season opener, which makes the fact that he’s compared to Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana in the episode that much funnier.
  • Speaking of Goff, is this shade or nah? Rams starting quarterback Case Keenum’s wife, Kimberly: “It’s going to be fun to play your first game.” Keenum’s response: “It’s going to be fun to play the whole season.”

Aaron Dodson is an associate editor at The Undefeated. Often mistaken for Aaron Dobson, formerly of the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals, he was one letter away from being an NFL wide receiver.