The "Hard Knocks" galaxy welcomed a new star Tuesday night.
His name is Margus Hunt, and he's a 26-year-old rookie defensive end from Estonia who is basically The Comic Relief Foreign Guy from every bad sports movie you've ever seen. He is nothing less than a blessing sent down to our planet by the premium cable gods.
Will Hunt be any good as a player? Who knows, though Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer tells colleagues in a private meeting that the second-round draft pick and former discus and shot-put hero reminds him -- physically anyway -- of Texans star J.J. Watt. Not bad company for conversation.
"Hard Knocks" focuses more on Hunt's assimilation into a locker room full of players who are fascinated by the 6-foot-8, 277-pound giant from a foreign land. Oddly, his teammates all seem to think he's from England. ("Why do y'all say, 'Across the pond'?") The lack of familiarity is mutual, as Hunt acknowledges he never even saw a black person until he was 18.
On numerous occasions, we see teammates try to poke fun at Hunt, and each time their ribbing is brushed off by Hunt's combination of confidence and aloofness. He'll be a fun guy to track, both through the rest of this series and the NFL season that follows.
Here's what else stood out in Episode 2 ...
Dalton remains charisma challenged
Sometimes a player on "Hard Knocks" will surprise you with his personality. Andy Dalton doesn't fall into that category, at least not yet. QB1 has been more or less exactly how you'd expect him to be through two episodes. Low-key, dry as a desert, mostly ambivalent to the world around him.
That doesn't doom Dalton as an NFL quarterback, of course. (He's practically Russell Brand when compared to Joe Flacco.) But Dalton might not make for compelling television.
Here's an idea for a TV show ...
Each week, we cue up the two defensive backs with a question. Today, they'll discuss the pro athlete hierarchy when it comes to the opposite sex.
(Fade to black)
Congrats to John Conner
We've decided to waive the five-year waiting period in favor of immediate induction of Conner into the "Hard Knocks" Hall of Fame. For the second time in three seasons, an NFL coaching staff has fallen head over heels for "The Terminator," a one-dimensional player at a position fading faster than Blockbuster.
Quote of the night
(Presented without explanation for maximum effect.)
The week in James Harrison
Back to Estonia
Hunt has several entertaining conversations in Episode 2 ("I'm from Estonia, BRO."), but the combination of banter and setting is never better than when Hunt and Geno Atkins casually discuss the "Rocky" franchise in the midst of a one-on-one practice drill.
We present the conversation here in its entirety:
Atkins: I bet "Rocky III" is your favorite movie.
Hunt: (already clear where this is going) "It's "Rocky IV," actually.
(a beat passes)
Hunt: You're talking about the one with the Russian?
Hunt: That's "Rocky IV."
Atkins: What's "III"?
Hunt: I don't know ( Editor's note: "Rocky III" is the one with Mr. T.), but "Rocky IV" is that one because everyone keeps talking about that. IVAN Dra-go.
(several more beats)
Hunt: I must break you.
»A.J. Green's knee injury has had the unfortunate effect of keeping him away from "Hard Knocks" cameras. We did enjoy learning that Green a) has no idea if he has a DVR and b) might be an AOL user. It's safe to assume A.J. is not caught up on "Breaking Bad."
» Safety Taylor Mays is the early leader in the clubhouse as The Guy Who Is Trying Too Hard For Camera Time. Just be yourself, man. Let it come to you.
» You have to love John Skelton's confidence when asked by a game official if he's going to make the team: "It's, uh, probably about 50/50 between Josh (Johnson) and myself." Talk about an unshakable belief in self!