We are back for a fourth week of the Annotated Hard Knocks, trying to find the backstories and split-second shots you might have missed from this week's episode of the HBO show chronicling the Bucs in training camp.
We appreciate that readers are helping us not miss things you might have missed -- thanks to @thadw on Twitter, whose sharp ear and mind noticed that the acoustic instrumental played during the locker-room montage Tuesday is called "Tampa," by the Gipsy Kings. Nothing is accidental with this show and its attention to detail. Here we go ...
1. Another cameo for Charlie
It's notable four shows in that we haven't seen coach Dirk Koetter or general manager Jason Licht profiled away from One Buc Place -- both are relatively private people, so it's not that surprising. Licht does love to have his family at practice, and this week's intro, with everybody dancing and singing to Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It," shows Licht's son Charlie, sitting next to Bucs defensive tackles Chris Baker and Gerald McCoy.
You may remember Charlie from the first episode, proudly showing Mike Evans that he knows what the word "savage" means. Pay close attention in the shots of proud-papa Licht's office and you'll see one family photo in the corner of the office, and another on the wall next to the white board with the team's schedule on it.
2. Dancing with Gerald
The moment we saw Gerald McCoy run into the stands and bring out 4-year-old Brooklyn Valentin to dance with him during warmups in training camp, we knew it was one of the best moments of camp. I was happy to quickly record this video, but knew "Hard Knocks" would have it better. They're everywhere and always rolling, so they give us a twist: The whole deal was Dirk Koetter's idea.
"There's a little girl dancing over there," he tells McCoy. "Pull her out of the crowd and see if she'll come out here and dance." We laughed, thinking how not every 4-year-old might be game to dance on the middle of the field in front of everyone, but he lucked out and picked the 4-year-old-girl equivalent of McCoy, who clearly is comfortable dancing anywhere. To see her face, McCoy's face and even her dad, carrying her down from the stands, it's all sheer, spontaneous joy.
3. Godwin's girlfriend
Our goal is to have written about some of the cool things "Hard Knocks" uncovers, so we were happy to see rookie receiver Chris Godwin featured, along with his girlfrend, Mariah DelPercio. We talked to Penn State coach James Franklin
right after the draft, and he referenced Mariah as what he considered the ultimate character reference from a coach on a player -- that Godwin's high school coach in Middletown, Del., was OK with Godwin dating his daughter. Mariah is not only into fitness but good at writing as well, with a nutrition blog in college. Here's a good story about their relationship as part of a profile on Godwin from his college days. Also, it's telling that Dirk Koetter, talking to Godwin about improving his conditioning in hot weather, says "You're going to be playing a lot."
4. Rookie talent show
So "Hard Knocks" teased to this in last week's "on next week's show" bit, and we wondered if that "10 things you won't see in camp" list, posted on social media and quickly deleted by DeSean Jackson, would make it on the show. There were a couple jokes of varying inappropriateness that weren't intended for public consumption, and it speaks well to the Bucs' good relationship with the show that those didn't make it onto the show. What did make it is a funny shot from a rookie skit -- in this pic, you can see Stevie Tu'ikolovatu is playing a coach, with rookies pretending to be older players. Justin Evans, trying to look fat as Chris Baker and wearing his No. 90 jersey, says "Naw, coach, one rep a week," poking at how Baker isn't a big fan of practice. That's Korren Kirven on the left, Bobo Wilson covering his face, and Antony Auclair and Jeremy McNichols on the right.
5. Weight-room montage!
Lots of quick cuts to Bucs working out in the weight room -- even a rerun of that shot from the intro each week where Lavonte David is lifting and Cameron Brate is just watching, impressed. The coolest thing here are the box jumps -- leaping from a standing position and landing on a stack of pads much higher than you'd expect, which help with athleticism and muscle. The jumper here is rookie safety Justin Evans, whose vertical leap at the NFL combine this spring was a ridiculous 41.5 inches. He's there with safety J.J. Wilcox (who had a 35-inch vertical at the 2013 combine) and rookie linebacker Kendell Beckwith and quarterback Ryan Griffin.
6. Never-before-seen footage
I talked to Bucs linebacker Cameron Lynch on Monday about his experience being on "Hard Knocks" last year as a Rams player, and he'd mentioned that he was grateful that when he was cut, it didn't make it onto the show, just wishing some things could be left private. So I was intrigued to see Tuesday's episode show footage of him walking to Jeff Fisher's office to learn he'd been cut by the Rams -- it worked out well because a week later he landed with the Bucs, and now has a shot to get good news this weekend.
Here's what's cool -- the "Hard Knocks" folks went back to last year's raw tape -- remember they record 350 hours for every one-hour show -- and found Lynch's cut scene and edited it for this year's show. Next time I feel like I never throw anything away. ...
7. The big room
As the Bucs go over rookie player evaluations, we get a wide shot of an impressive collection of Bucs coaches, scouts and front office types. It's a good sign of how well the coaching and scouting sides work together in assembling and determining a final 53-man roster.
With a little help, I was able to identify everyone in the room -- the first shot is a defensive meeting: At the main table, clockwise from Dirk Koetter at the bottom, are defensive coordinator Mike Smith, linebackers coach Mark Duffner, defensive line coach Jay Hayes, special teams coordinator Nate Kaczor, assistant special teams coach Carlos Polk, (Shelton Quarles in red at back table), secondary coach Jon Hoke, defensive backs coach Brett Maxie and assistant defensive line coach Paul Spicer. To Koetter's right is Jason Licht, and to his right is director of player personnel John Spytek and then director of college scouting Mike Biehl. The tables to the right, front to back, have director of football administration Mike Greenberg and director of pro scouting Rob McCartney, then assistant to the head coach Anthony Perkins, then defensive assistants Dave Borgonzi and Danny Breyer, then pro scouts Alex Smith and Shane Scannell. That's 19 guys all conferring on personnel decisions, just on the defensive side. Also worth appreciating from this shot: Licht is a lefty.
Later, we get a shot of the offensive room, which doesn't have quite as many people. Koetter is in the same seat -- clockwise from him, we have offensive coordinator Todd Monken, Kaczor, tight ends coach Ben Steele, Polk, running backs coach Tim Spencer, assistant offensive line coach Butch Barry, quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian, offensive line coach George Warhop, then Spytek and Licht. In the tables behind is assistant Zack Grossi, with assistant receivers coach Andrew Weidinger and assistant Skyler Fulton behind him.
8. Bucs and Bolts
Lightning fans will appreciate a cameo by assistant general manager Julien BriseBois, talking with Licht and Greenberg and Biehl in Licht's office. It's a cool crossover that they'd stop by to trade notes on personnel evaluation in general -- both are so tightly focused on their sports and their jobs that it's understandable a hockey executive in town wouldn't necessarily know about the star quarterback's leadership skills. Great snippet of dialogue, as Licht explains that Jameis Winston is "the best leader I think I've ever been around," and Greenberg, clarifying, says "Not just sports. Anything."
9. Crayons and Dye
As part of our Bucs preview section, I wrote about all the extra things receivers do to work on their hands, and I mentioned a scene that I'd posted a video of -- receivers catching balls from a JUGS machine, while Monken beats up on them while wearing "crayon" pads on his forearms. My editor wanted a photo and we weren't sure if we had one, but "Hard Knocks" showed the exact scene, with Monken working with receiver Donteea Dye. There's another scene with Dye catching passes as a bunch of receivers pull on his arms, and he holds onto the ball, saying "I've been lifting!" Koetter last year said Dye wasn't "physically ready" to play after he came back from injury, so he's clearly responded to that. They showed a clip of the play where Dye injured his ankle, resulting in him missing 17 days of training camp. I had been in position to get a video of Dye's catch, not realizing it resulted in his injury.
10. Postgame pics
I love the idea of the postgame jersey swap -- usually players from each team who went to college or high school together, meeting on the field and trading jerseys. In preseason, it seems that the group photo has replaced that for now, with big pics of 5-6 alums from one college playing the same game with the expanded rosters. "Hard Knocks" had a cool scene from after the Bucs-Browns game, where Jameis Winston was talking to Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, urging him to be patient and be content with checkdowns and not to do too much. As he's doing that, you can see Bucs rookie O.J. Howard smiling for a picture with Browns receiver Richard Mullaney -- they were teammates together in college at Alabama.