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Camp Buzz: Chad Johnson was just another number

I planned to start this morning's Training Camp Buzz writing about something other than "Hard Knocks." After all, Dan Hanzus already wrote an awesome recap for us Tuesday night on Around the League.

But this daily post is supposed to be about what folks are talking about around the NFL. Last night's episode will go down as one of the most talked-about episodes in the show's incredible history.

The reaction on Twitter after Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin brought down the axe on Chad Johnson was telling.

As football fans, we are so lucky to have "Hard Knocks" in our lives. From coaches ripping players in meetings, to the light moments of singing and haircuts, to guys fighting for their professional lives, we get such a richer view of professional football. And it can be a brutal business.

It was eerie to watch the moment when such an accomplished pro like Chad Johnson had his career careen out of control. It also felt like Johnson -- the reality show veteran -- just was completing a two episode arc on HBO. The look on Johnson's face was haunting as he lost his job. But I couldn't help but think it was all very familiar.

We've seen so many guys get fired on "Hard Knocks." Punters, lineman, rookies, and veterans. We've seen brutal injuries; we've repeatedly seen dreams dashed. It always was affecting.

Earlier in the episode, Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman upbraided rookie tight end Michael Egnew in a team meeting.

"You were terrible! I will cut you today if I was GM! Get your head out of your ass!" Sherman yelled.

It always comes back to the field. I couldn't help but think that Johnson still would be with the Dolphins if he caught those third down passes during the team's scrimmage or last Friday's preseason game. If he picked up the playbook a little bit faster and didn't do so many unpredictable things on the field that confused his quarterbacks.

Chad Johnson looked good in Miami, but he didn't look that good. He was still an aging receiver who struggled to separate from the Dolphins' best cornerback. He wasn't reliable. He wasn't worth the off-field distractions that he brought. If Johnson were five years younger better, Philbin probably would have looked the other way.

Johnson seemed to inspire more empathy out of the audience than most cuts because we think we "know" him better. But strip away the personality, and Johnson is just another number on the depth chart. Only a rare few NFL players escape a visit from "The Turk."

On the Agenda

We'll have offensive power rankings later in the day on Around the League. If you missed them yesterday, we handed out Preseason Week 1 awards, looked at areas of concern for all 32 teams, and handicapped the Comeback Player of the Year race. Happy Wednesday; thanks as always for reading.

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