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'Hard Knocks' recap: Cincinnati Bengals begin cuts

Emotions are checked at the door come cutdown time at NFL training camp.

Judging by Episode 3 of "Hard Knocks," Bengals president Mike Brown learned this long ago. The decision on who stays and who goes is a collaborative one in Cincinnati, but it's Brown who acts as the surgeon. And the surgeon cuts like a scalpel.

"I would suggest to you," Brown begins, "there are some guys that are not playing, not practicing, not helping enough -- if at all -- right now, and we ought to be able to let them go."

The men in the room nod in collective agreement. The surgeon goes to work.

"Goard, is there any reason that we can't do without him?"

A coach -- out of frame -- doesn't hesitate: "No reason whatsoever."

Wide receiver Tyrone Goard -- who we hope isn't watching HBO on this night -- is gone.

Brown isn't done.

"Maybin. You don't need him, do you?"

Linebackers coach Paul Guenther explains that Aaron Maybin hasn't received many opportunities because the Bengals had played from ahead in their two preseason games. The veteran linebacker hasn't shown much, but he's also been a victim of bad luck.

"OK," Brown replies, "Well, we'll send him on his way, too."

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They are the first of 37 cuts to come at Bengals camp, a difficult ritual that is now beginning all over the NFL. It's not pleasant stuff, but it's a part of this world.

Here's what else stood out in Episode 3 ...

Andy Dalton comes into focus


The quarterback is starting to loosen up in front of the cameras. We got a nice glimpse into Dalton's personality in the pre-game locker room, where he oddly -- and endearingly -- offers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu dental floss.

"You never know when they get your smile," Dalton explains as he works away on his teeth, giving us a glimpse into the reality of a starting QB who knows he'll be the subject of multiple sideline shots over four quarters.

A short time later, Dalton pumps himself up by listening to Christian rock on his iPod. Come gametime, he sets the huddle at ease with some ridiculous banter.

"I don't know about y'all, but I'm probably the best lookin' guy out here," Dalton says. "Best looking guy out on the field."

Hopefully he can settle for being the best-looking ginger.

Chatting with Gio


We had the chance to speak on the phone with rookie running back Giovani Bernard on Tuesday afternoon. Has he been following "Hard Knocks"?

"No. I didn't even watch the last episode," he said. "The first one, I was kind of forced to watch it. I don't plan on watching the one tonight, I'd rather sleep than watch TV. I'm simple. I'd rather catch up on sleep when I can and not really focus on TV as much."

I don't believe this for a second. Bernard has been a focal point of the season. His (extremely photogenic) girlfriend even made a cameo on Tuesday night. Gio's watching, even if he's not willing to admit it.

Hey, what was that song during the practice montage?



You're welcome.

Much respect for Zimmer


Adam "Pacman" Jones' explanation of his relationship with defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was undoubtedly the most powerful moment of the night.

"Coach Zimm is my father I never had," Jones said. "He don't take no s--- from nobody. I think he helped me out in a lot of my career 'cause I haven't been around a guy like that since college. I love him, man. He's been great for me, he got me back playing my best football. At the end of the day, when you got a guy like that in the back of your head, the only thing you think is, 'I don't want to let myself down and I definitely don't want to let him down.'"

That's some movie-level stuff right there.

Never -- EVER -- step foot inside Hue Jackson's office


It's a one-way ticket on the shame train. Last week, unsuspecting fullback Orson Charles was given some brutal tough love in front of the nation's premium cable subscribers.

Charles again was in Jackson's darkened office (seriously, let's get another light in there), where the Bengals' running backs coach and special assistant to head coach Marvin Lewis commanded the fullback to walk like a duck to the door. Charles goes in there again, we're not sure he comes out.

James Harrison Is Scary, Part III


The veteran linebacker seems to have softened his stance on cameras. On Tuesday, Harrison welcomed -- OK, "welcomed" might be a stretch -- allowed the "Hard Knocks" crew to join him for an acupuncture session. (If we were the boom guy, we'd sniff this out as a trap and call in sick. Classic James Harrison maneuver.)

Later, we see Harrison use his powers of intimidation to get linebacker Jayson DiManche to take on a larger role in the rookie talent show. Harrison basically is Zeus from "No Holds Barred."

Stray thoughts


» Taylor Mays continues to blow away the competition as The Guy Who Is Trying Too Hard For Camera Time. On Tuesday, he played "Barbie Uno" with his high school sweetheart, then later showed off his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bookbag, complete with Donatello mask. Oh brother.

» Any Christian rock fans know what song Andy Dalton was listening to on his iPod? Tweet me and we'll include it in next week's recap.

» Marvin Lewis should've forced George Iloka to film a "The More You Know" commercial about the dangers of punching a helmet with your bare hand.

» The veterans seemed to get a kick out of aspects of the rookie talent show. We weren't feeling it too much. Was like hanging out with people who only traffic in inside jokes. The worst.

» Not enough Margus Hunt this week. We did like Domata Peko's advice after Hunt fell for the unscrewed bottle cap trick. "Hey, never get water from anybody else but the water guy." A lesson for us all.

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