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'Hard Knocks' Episode 4 recap: Under pressure

The Ivy League quarterback is struggling with verbiage. He can't get the right words out of his mouth before a play, and it's ruining the precious few snaps he gets during the week.

Jeff Matthews knows it, and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter shows up for the first time in this Hard Knocks season to remind Matthews how badly he's screwing up. Then Koetter comes in with the kicker.

"Don't get so pressured up," Koetter says ... right after telling Matthews he's about to lose his job if he doesn't turn things around.

The spectre of being cut hangs over half the roster in training camp, yet coaches feel the need to remind players of the stakes with every mistake.

"You might have just cost yourself a job!" defensive line coach Bryan Cox yells at linebacker Jacques Smith after he gets kicked out of a preseason game.

"Grow the (expletive) up!" special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong screams at a wayward special teamer.

Some players respond to the pressure; others break. It's brutal to see Matthews speechless and near tears as he's getting released. Verbiage doesn't matter at that point.

Here's what else stuck out during Tuesday's penultimate episode:

  1. Armstrong's tirade against his special teams unit was epic. One player looked genuinely shaken up.

"Some of you guys think you're better than it; you think you're above it," Armstrong said. "Who do you think you are? The game don't mean enough to you. And that's very (expletive) apparent."

  1. Rookies Devonta Freeman and Ra'Shede Hageman were targets for their poor special teams efforts. Hageman has turned into this season's version of Bengals tackle Andre Smith, constantly chided as he tries to get into better shape. At one point, Hageman was forced to essentially ignore defensive line coach Bryan Cox because Hageman couldn't run anymore.
  1. "They making you their jailhouse (expletive)," Cox says to Hageman during one meeting where the rookie can barely stand to watch.
  1. Matt Ryan taking pictures for a cover shoot is just as awkward as you'd expect. Smart move by Ryan, however, to not take off his shirt after he saw Colin Kaepernick's pictures for the same shoot.
  1. Freeman is not yet at the stage in his pedicure development where he can avoid giggling the whole time.
  1. The show ended with Cox's takes on current movies, yet another show I would watch. While he loves Shallow Hal and any Adam Sandler movie, he says Best Man's Holiday was the best movie of the last five years.

"I don't want to see the ones up for an Academy award. Them some boring ass movies. I got enough stress in my life to watch some more stressful (expletive). I don't wanna see that."

Episode 4 of HBO's "Hard Knocks" re-airs Wednesday at 11 p.m. ET.

The "Around The League Podcast" reviews all of the action from Week 3 of the preseason. Get it while it's hot!

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