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Noted & quoted: The best moments from Episode 4 of ‘Hard Knocks’

With the preseason coming to a close, it’s time to start making cuts

Before we dive into this week’s episode of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Los Angeles Rams, let’s address the biggest topic of conversation in the NFL heading into the season: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit, not stand, during the national anthem before games because he feels the country “oppresses black people and people of color.”

Kaepernick’s decision is not mentioned during episode four, but in the second episode of this season, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher brought up the national anthem in a team meeting, stating that it was a requirement for his players to stand and pay respect to the country while The Star-Spangled Banner is sung before games. Fisher even gave a video presentation on how his team should align during the national anthem.

“It’s a respect thing. It’s a self-respect thing. It’s respect for your teammates. It’s respect for this game. It’s respect for this country,” Fisher said in episode two.

Though the Hard Knocks camera didn’t capture this (at least for episode four), Fisher spoke to reporters after the Rams’ practice last Sunday about Kaepernick. His response: “I’m not being critical of Kap, he has every right to do that, but we have an organizational philosophy that has been in place for a long time, with respect to the anthem.”

It’s mighty ironic that this topic came up in Hard Knocks before Kaepernick expressed his position. The question now is how will Fisher respond if one of his players decides to side with Kaepernick and sit during the anthem. Fine? Suspension? Cut from the team? It’s something to keep in mind.

In the meantime, here is a series of the most memorable moments from episode four, as told through the best things Rams players and coaches were caught saying.


first down

“When you grab them on that day and say, ‘We’ve gotta take this walk,’ you do feel it deep inside that these kids have dreamed about playing at this level for years, since they were small kids. And all of sudden, it may be over.” — Rams head strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson

 

Meet Rock Gullickson. He’s the head strength and conditioning coach for the Rams, responsible for everything the team does in the weight room. And while on the field, one of his duties is to snap the football to quarterbacks in practice, which he estimates he’s done about 130,000 times in his coaching career. The team loves Gullickson, which is why Fisher entrusts him with one of the organization’s toughest tasks. Gullickson is responsible for telling players they’re about to be cut from the team. This week, the Rams made 14 cuts to meet the 75-man roster deadline. In the episode, we see some of those cuts that were made and how Gullickson graciously handles it. “What are you always looking at me for?” Gullickson jokingly asks wide receiver Austin Hill. “What do you mean why I am I looking at you? You’re the reaper today,” Hill responds. Luckily, he was safe from cuts.

second down

“Oh my God. Yes, f—— Ariel came out to see me today, bruh bruh.” — Rams defensive end William Hayes

 

A few episodes ago, we learned two things about Rams defensive end William Hayes:

  1. He loves mermaids.
  2. He doesn’t think dinosaurs ever existed.

This episode, one fan comes to a Rams practice dressed as a mermaid, and Hayes is absolutely overcome with emotion. “You ain’t never had a mermaid come out and see you at practice!” Hayes brags to one of his teammates. In the next scene, Hayes takes a trip to Dino Quest, where a tour guide gives him a one-on-one crash course in dinosaurs. Summary of the trip: Hayes still doesn’t believe they existed.”You’re doing a better job of convincing me that this stuff ain’t real,” he tells the guide.

third down

“I’m really a savage out here, though. People don’t understand that. Like I’m 5-9, but I really play like I’m 6-3.” — Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin

 

Young savage!!! #RamsNation #Awesome

A post shared by Tavon Austin (@tayawesome11) on

Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin recently signed a four-year, $42 million contract extension ($30 million guaranteed) with Los Angeles, the team that drafted him with the eighth overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. In three seasons in the league, Austin has been a less than impressive receiver to the point that I’ve avoided him in every fantasy football draft. He’s yet to record more than 500 receiving yards in a single season. But if it’s one thing we’ve learned from Hard Knocks, it’s that Austin is tough. In episode four, his 5-foot-9, 175-pounder gets into a scuffle with the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Hayes. Here for it! We also learn that Austin is a pretty down-to-earth guy. We see him sign his new contract and have a nice moment with Rams owner/chairman Stan Kroenke, during which he thanks him with a big hug. Regardless of his numbers, which he’ll surely improve on this season, good for him. He’s getting that paper!

Fourth down

“Practice is f—— important. And when you get into that s— there, you’re not thinking about a rep, you’re not thinking about practice. You’re thinking about b—s—, and I’m not standing for that.” — Rams head coach Jeff Fisher

 

The Rams got into a fight during practice, and the cameras caught all the blows. Aside from a vicious one-on-one fistfight between running back Chase Reynolds and linebacker Brandon Chubb, the overall brawl was pretty tame. Definitely not as good as the fight between the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins on Hard Knocks last season. No surprise, Fisher was very upset that his players resorted to swinging at each other. He felt that the team lost some valuable practice time. Wait, we talking ’bout practice!

Fresh set of downs

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

  • Defensive backs coach Brandon Fisher and assistant wide receivers coach Kenan Smith take a trip to In-N-Out Burger … in a golf cart. They went through the drive-thru and ordered $76 worth of food. Legends.
  • Wide receiver Austin Hill, who is probably my favorite player on Hard Knocks this season, spends his off day by taking his daughter Rielyn to the aquarium. “They feel like jelly beans!” Rielyn says while touching some of the fish. #FamilyGoals
  • During a team meeting, the Rams play their own version of Jeopardy!, hosted by special teams coordinator John Fassel, who enters the meeting room on a surfboard carried by other staff members. One of the Jeopardy! categories is “Chimichanga,” which requires players to spell out the names of food. According to defensive end Eugene Sims, fajita is spelled “F-A-G-I-T-A,” and to tackle Greg Robinson, lasagna is spelled “L-A-S-A-N-G-A.” Bless their hearts.
  • Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams with another gem of a quote: “What game are we playing? Checkers? Chess? Putt-putt golf? We’re playing f—— football. It’s real f—— simple.”

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.