‘Hard Knocks: Cleveland Browns’ 1×02 Review: Preseason Is Meaningless But Entertaining

There is one universally acknowledged truth about NFL preseason football: It’s meaningless.
Okay, well, not entirely meaningless. Because there are nobodies trying to lock up a roster spot or a practice squad spot. It’s certainly meaningful to those people. But when it comes to judging your starting team by the preseason, it’s pointless, meaningless, and, at times, unwatchable. There’s nothing stupider (Yes, Carl Nassib, “stupider” is a word.)
The Cleveland Browns kicked off their 2018 preseason on Hard Knocks, where Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield both lit it up under center (poor choice of words considering Antonio Gallaway being caught with possession of marijuana, but I digress) as the Browns felt what it light to win a football game!
The only problem is, it was a preseason game. Where offenses are more vanilla than ice cream, defenses as threatening as a cold, and the starters play for the time it takes you to go down the street to Starbucks and get the goods.
But football is football. Even preseason football. I’d rather watch preseason football than a regular season baseball game or pretty much anything else. That’s just me as a football fan. And this is coming from someone that would watch NFL Network’s replay of last season’s red zone from Week 1 to Week 16 every Sunday during the offseason. (Yes, I have a problem.)
Drama, drama, drama. Man, was there drama surrounding the Browns receivers in this episode. I was beginning to wonder if anyone besides Jarvis Landry would survive this episode. Please raise your hand if you are shocked that receivers were involved in “drama.” (That’s what I thought.)
A person can really understand why Jarvis Landry cussed out his receivers room in last week’s premiere when receivers are dropping footballs that hit them in the hands, getting stopped by the cops in the early morning for marijuana possession and an expired license, and demanding a trade when things get too tough. Not to mention his partner in crime (oof, poor choice of words on my part) Josh Gordon is still nowhere in sight. Dear lord, Jarvis Landry earned his signing bonus just from all of this.

Three Stars

1. Devon Cajuste (and his dad) | With great hair comes great responsibility. Every year Hard Knocks introduces us to an underdog that’s not likely to make the final 53-man roster because they like to make us feel feelings. They get us attached so when we watch them get cut — their hopes dashed, but hopefully clinging on the practice squad thread — we feel. But there’s nothing like having hope and rooting for the underdog. Reality television — Hard Knocks included — is all about the drama. Drama and emotions. Which is what led us to meeting third-year tight end Devon Cajuste, who stole the show and our hearts in this second episode.
Cajuste went undrafted in 2016 and spent some time in San Francisco and Green Bay before finding his way to the Browns in 2018. And we truly are blessed because it led us to a relationship that we’ll always remember in our Hard Knocks history. Even if Cajuste doesn’t make the team. Cajuste and his father have a special bond that was evident from the first whistle call at Browns training camp. But it’s the close bond between father and son — and watching that dynamic — that gave us all the feels. Mr. Cajuste had suffered two heart attacks — on top of several other things — and we watch as Devon learned that his dad recently suffered a third heart attack and he nearly breaks down. These personal stories are what makes football so amazing. It’s real life. Real people. Real emotions.
As if that wasn’t enough to get our feels going, we got to see Devon show some real heart and grit on the football field as he battled through a shoulder injury in the Browns’ first preseason game against the New York Giants. He battled through the pain and made some great plays in the process. I’m officially invested in Cajuste. Please don’t break my heart.
2. Antonio CallawayWhile Cajuste’s starring role in episode 2 was for all the right reasons, Antonio Callaway was not. The rookie receiver out of Florida that fell in the draft because of off-field concerns found himself in some trouble at Browns camp. After Callaway was pulled over and cited for possession of marijuana and an expired license, he decided not to tell anyone within the Browns organization. Because that’s a good idea. And Callaway did a terrible job of hiding his little big secret in the process.
Once Hue Jackson and John Dorsey found out, they had an intense discussion where the concern was more about Callaway’s honesty than the weed he possessed. Jackson promised to “have his ass” if he found out Callaway was lying about not smoking marijuana while driving.
After news broke of Callaway’s off-field antics, coach Hue Jackson forced Callaway to give an awkward apology to his teammates before making him pay his dues on the football field. Callaway played nearly every offensive snap of the game, which left him feeling every second of it. But he did make an impression nabbing three catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.
3. Todd Haley | Football world, meet Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley, whose personality was on full-display in this second episode reminding us what happens when you let stars shine. And place a camera on them to get it all. Whether it was making fun of Carl Nassib’s name or telling Corey Coleman to “get some shoes that work” or referring to Antonio Callaway as a “puppy dog” at practice or having a conversation while upside down in his office (exercise waits for no one), this was Haley’s week to shine.

50 Things We Learned From Episode 2

Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cleveland Browns airs Tuesdays at 10pm on HBO.

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