TAMPA – One of the things that makes HBO’s Hard Knocks so special is how honest it is. It’s not afraid to show a team’s or especially a young players’ warts.
Episode 1 of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers exposed some of rookie running back Jeremy McNichol’s warts.
We learn first that McNichols, the Bucs fifth-round draft pick, has earned the nickname “McWeapon’’ for his vast skill set and that special teams coach Nate Kaczor is impressed by his pass-catching ability.
But then we see McNichols McMessing up. A lot. First he makes a mistake during a special teams drill and is asked by Kaczor “Do you know where you’re going?’’ Turns out he didn’t.
Then, during a blocking drill, he uses poor technique on one attempt and is beaten badly by linebacker Cameron Lynch on another, prompting a discussion with running backs coach Tim Spencer about not playing with confidence.
McNichols: “I know it, but I’m second guessing myself sometimes.’’
Spencer: “You need to keep studying so you can process faster. In your down time you need to get in that (play)book.’’
McNichols told Florida Football Insiders on Wednesday that he’s done just that, but not before he video called an old mentor, rapper Snoop Dogg, who was his coach when he played in a 7-in-7 all-star game as a kid. It’s another great aspect of HBO’s total behind the scenes access that we were privy to their conversation.
Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, all but reaffirms what Spencer told him when he reminds McNichols that the “guys who know the most play the most.’’
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter confirmed that on Wednesday, saying of McNichols, “I think Tim told him in the deal he needs to get into his playbook. I would agree with Tim. He needs to get into his playbook.”
McNichols said he’s been in it every day and added that he was actually pleased with his Hard Knocks close-up.
“I thought it was good,” he said. “It was realistic. It showed the good and the bad.”
Of course it did. That’s what Hard Knocks does.
By the way, you can watch the entire episode here. Enjoy