Nic Antaya/Getty Images
It’s only right that the 2022 edition of HBO’s Hard Knocks started out with Dan Campbell.
After all, the Detroit Lions’ second-year head coach is a quote machine who brings a unique blend of energy, motivational tactics and experience as a former player. Those quotes and his focus on “grit” were on full display before the opening credits even rolled in Tuesday’s opening episode of HBO’s annual behind-the-scenes look at training camp for an NFL team.
This year’s team is the Lions, and viewers were ready to run through a wall for Campbell just like the players:
Natalie Kerwin @NatalieKerwin1
Currently running through a brick wall after that Dan Campbell speech #HardKnocks
James Starks II @_JamesStarks
After watching a few minutes of #HardKnocks, Dan Campbell is my kind of coach.
There’s nothing like a head coach joining his players in up-downs in the summer heat to set the tone for a football team attempting to put four straight last-place finishes in the NFC North behind it.
Finding the right combination of players will be key in that effort as well, and one of those potential franchise cornerstones is defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. The Lions selected him with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2022 NFL draft because of his talent on the field, but he might have gone No. 1 if the picks were based on singing ability:
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
HBO’s season debut of Hard Knocks with the Lions features the 2nd pick, Aidan Hutchinson – who turns 22 today – singing Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” during team meeting. “Producers claim it may be the most entertaining rookie singing moment in show history,” per show official.
Brad Galli @BradGalli
Aidan Hutchinson 😮 pic.twitter.com/fmW6YlrciW
Hutchinson had the entire team dancing as a rookie, but it was a veteran who stole the show when it came to leadership.
Running back Jamaal Williams brought himself to tears during a post-practice motivational speech centered around how he uses last year’s 3-13-1 record as fuel to get better heading into a new campaign.
That he spent four years on the Green Bay Packers and understands the other side of the NFC North standings made the words all the more notable.
Brandon Justice @BrandonJustice_
Post Jamaal Williams speech: pic.twitter.com/ULv9gJ1y1H
Tuesday’s episode also delved into the one-on-one battles between Hutchinson and offensive lineman Penei Sewell and introduced viewers to a coaching staff loaded with former players, including running backs coach Duce Staley and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.
If the Lions battle other teams like Staley and Glenn did between the lines, they may just contend in the NFC North this season.
Their preparation toward doing just that will continue next Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max when Hard Knocks continues.
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