FRISCO, Texas – Call it a character development episode.
The second episode of HBO's "Hard Knocks" aired on Tuesday night, and the producers turned their focus toward some of the unsung storylines down the Cowboys' roster.
With Dak Prescott sidelined by a shoulder injury, the Cowboys' final week in Oxnard was marked by young players striving for roster spots heading into the second preseason game against Arizona.
Here are some of the main takeaways from this week's episode.
Name To Know
There aren't many players on the roster who have gotten less publicity than Azur Kamara.
It's understandable. Kamara signed on as an undrafted free agent in 2020 – amid the COVID-19 crisis – and wound up on injured reserve for the majority of his rookie season. His name is located near the bottom of the Cowboys' defensive end depth chart.
What most people don't know is that Kamara has one of the more interesting stories in the entire NFL. Kamara and his family are refugees from civil war in Ivory Coast, which raged for five years during his childhood. His mother sought asylum in the United States while he and his siblings lived for years in the West African nation of Guinea. When his mother finally gained approval to send for her children to join her in the U.S., Kamara wound up in Phoenix with no knowledge of English – let alone an understanding of American football.
Suffice to say, Kamara returning to Arizona to play in his first NFL action in front of his family – not to mention nearly winning the game – was a source of emotion and intrigue. If the second-year pass rusher wasn't on the radar before, he will be now.
If you follow this team closely, you probably didn't learn a ton of new information from the show's sequence about the practice with the Los Angeles Rams.
It was a spirited practice from both sides, and it was marked by a handful of chippy situations – most notably, the scuffle between All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Connor Williams.
While we might not have gleaned a ton of new information from it, the scenes from the Rams practice were among the best the show had produced so far. The "Hard Knocks" crew boasts upward of 25 members with some of the most state-of-the-art camera equipment around, and they put it to use in showcasing the action from that Cowboys-Rams practice. It's highly worth a watch, simply to see some top-notch quality shots of the Cowboys doing their thing against quality opposition.
It's been evident that newcomer Tarell Basham has some personality since he first spoke to reporters back during the spring. What he didn't have until now was a chance to showcase that personality on national TV.
Whether he was mimicking defensive line coach Aden Durde's English accent or freestyling prior to practice, Basham brought energy and fun to the scenes he was in. It's a shame that his air time was cut short by an ankle injury, but like he said: "minor setbacks for major comebacks."
Basham's injury isn't expected to sideline him for long, so hopefully he'll show back up in some subsequent episodes.
Again, this isn't exactly news. CeeDee Lamb has made a number of amazing catches during training camp. You might have heard.
If nothing else, it was worth watching the episode to see some high quality, high definition shots of Lamb making circus catches all ove the Cowboys' practice fields.
Also worth noting that Lamb owns two dogs, a Siberian husky and a golden doodle, for anyone who was interested.
BEHIND THE SCENES
One of the more interesting behind-the-scenes looks of this episode wasn't even from this season. Obviously, DeMarcus Lawrence has yet to get involved in practice to this point in 2021. But in introducing the Pro Bowl defensive end to a national audience, the HBO crew showed off several moments from previous years in Lawrence's career.
One of those was an all-access look at Lawrence's pregame huddle with the rest of the defensive line during the 2020 season. It wasn't much, but it was an interesting look at Lawrence's motivation methods. And as you might guess, it wasn't exactly safe for work.
TMI PART II
Last week, it was special teams coordinator John Fassel and his pep talk on vasectomies. This time around, the scene that's bound to have people talking was Ezekiel Elliott's search for baby powder.