We've had such fun for five weeks here on the Annotated Hard Knocks, trying to find the split-second images and background details you might have missed in watching the HBO show chronicle the Bucs' training camp as they prepare for the 2017 season. We're back for one more collection of 10 morsels and backstories — go back and watch and see if you pick up on some of the things we found.
1. The Depth chart
For weeks, we've seen carefully obscured shots of the interactive depth chart in Dirk Koetter's office, and this week, there were a few brief glimpses of the color-coded board in which the pecking order at each position can be constantly updated. In an early shot, we see Koetter look at the top half -- defense -- and pull up the second-string defensive end, DaVonte Lambert, who went on injured reserve after dislocating his wrist in the preseason. Koetter clicks on the name and updates him from green to red, reflecting the injury.
There was another shot at the end of the episode where a few details could be gleaned -- we know now that the Bucs treat Alan Cross, for instance, as a fullback, while the rest of the tight ends are counted as tight ends.
2. Devil Rays shoutout
One of the most compelling parts of the episode was Mike Evans speaking candidly about his tragic childhood, and his uncle killing his father to stop his domestic violence. I love to see athletes tell the stories of their tattoos, which are always so personal -- I'd known Evans had a Mickey Mouse tattoo on his arm but never connected that his father went by "Mickey." Evans, wearing an old-school Devil Rays ballcap, is equal points tough and carefree, as seen by the fact that he has a Harry Potter "Deathly Hallows" tattoo on his arm. The "boi" tattoo he shows, we now know, stands for "born on island," reflecting his proud Galveston roots.
3. Fitzpatrick Prime
The most constant thing we'd seen in the silly details of the show was Ryan Fitzpatrick wearing his Yeti cap in the quarterback scenes, but here, the Harvard grad is sporting an Autobots hat -- yes, from Transformers -- with a Star Wars T-shirt showing Yoda, a stormtrooper, Chewbacca and Darth Vader. Fitz was something of a scene-stealer this season, offering sage wisdom to the younger quarterbacks, even if it only related to where to find hot dogs at halftime.
4. Bobo celebration
Some of it is that the Bucs waited nearly the entire preseason to throw a touchdown pass, but the celebration when rookie Bobo Wilson appeared to score a 62-yard touchdown -- upon review, he was ruled down at the 22 -- is epic. Jameis Winston -- who played with Wilson at FSU -- runs clear down the sideline to celebrate, as does tight end Cameron Brate. When Sefo Liufau finally throws a touchdown to Bernard Reedy, there's more celebration, and Winston stopping to coax Koetter into a high five.
5. Doug Martin's ride
When we first saw Doug Martin, he was riding an electric skateboard, and as the episode shows an odd gathering of six key Bucs players at Charley's Steak House -- why the name tags? -- we see Martin pull up driving what looks like a new BMW i8. The regular model goes for about $145,000, but this one looks like a "Protonic Red" -- BMW only made 100 of them, and they go from 0 to 60 in 4.2 seconds. With the "scissor doors" that go up and not out, it's a valet parker's dream.
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6. Ah, Skip Bayless
Maybe the best burn of the show came as Jason Licht sat in his office, lamenting how hard it is to go through a day or two where 37 players are getting cut.
"I would rather drive across the country with Skip Bayless," he says, "and no radio working and the heater stuck on and a windshield wiper stuck on and it's got the metal hitting the glass."
A little back story on this -- two days before, Bayless, appearing on his Fox Sports One show "Undisputed," talked about the Bucs and "Hard Knocks" and took some unfair shots at Koetter and his coaching staff, calling them "high schoolish" and acting up for the HBO cameras, and that they in fact might limit the Bucs' potential this season. We wrote a blog post off what Bayless said, and I'm nearly positive it's what Koetter was referencing Wednesday when he said this: "Everybody that's portrayed in Hard Knocks, that's just a sliver of what they really are. So when someone on the outside says their opinion of anybody because they watched four episodes of Hard Knocks, I laugh. I laugh, because how do they know?"
Koetter was asked about his favorite moment on the show, and he laughed and said he probably shouldn't share, but that it did take place in this week's show. Do you think?
7. The Turk Squad
The guy who calls a player to the coach's office on cut day is often called The Turk, and for the Bucs, that man is former Bucs linebacker Shelton Quarles, now the team's director of football operations. The end of this episode had him in his office -- check out that cool Dyson desk fan in the background -- calling players and saying "you know if you hear from me, it's probably not a good call." The two assistants tasked with walking cut players to and from Koetter's office, by the way, are Anthony Perkins, the assistant to the head coach, and scouting assistant Brian McLaughlin. Underappreciated line of the show was as Bobo Wilson finally signed his practice-squad contract after driving down to Miami and back, he's asked if he enjoyed his vacation. Way over his head ...
8. Donteea Dye, Student Prince
Dye getting cut was one of the toughest parts of the show, and Dye's been classic from his eclipse scene and "cicadas" references to even now, where even in his most difficult moment, he's proudly sporting a hoodie for Heidelberg, the Division III school where he played before joining the Bucs. Heidelberg's mascot is the Student Princes, and he's a joy for small-school college football fans across the country. As Dirk Koetter said, you hope he catches a break down the road and continues in the NFL.
9. Li-Ti-Rilla, one more time
Kwon Alexander's made-up animal alter ego -- part-lion, part-tiger, part-gorilla -- has been the product placement king of the show, and you saw two more in this week's episode, with Riley Bullough wearing a Li-Ti-Rilla T-shirt in the laundromat, then Mike Evans in the final team auditorium scene. Alexander wouldn't say how many T-shirts he sold as a result of them showing up on "Hard Knocks" for five weeks, but passing them out to all his teammates looks like genius, and he said the sales have been "off the charts" since anything he had before the show.
10. The big picture
Just as the first show opened with Dirk Koetter talking to the entire team in the main auditorium, it also ends here, with Koetter addressing the team as a new 53-man unit (plus 11 on the practice squad). It's perfect that among the key talking points on the projection screen is this: "Nothing written, said or on TV matters," a perfect wrapup for the team not being distracted by the show's huge presence in their preseason. Liev Schreiber comes back to Koetter's metaphor from the first open about the Bucs like a rocket about to launch, and the show comes full circle.
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