Hard Knocks get harder


George Iloka

The third edition of Hard Knocks offered us some things Who Dey Nation already knows but that the rest of the country might not and some things that we didn't Tuesday night as the Bengals training camp grinds into Saturday night's dress rehearsal in Dallas.

We already knew that defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has molded one of the NFL's best defenses by stockpiling players unwanted elsewhere. Playing with what he calls "a chip on our shoulder," the trend has continued with Terence Newman, James Harrison and Adam Jones as the camera focused on Zimmer's strength of relating to players.

But it's still nice for the rest of the country (and definitely owners who are going to be looking for a head coach) to hear Jones say, "He's like the father I never had. He takes no bleep from anybody. ... He's got me back me playing my best football ... if I don't want to let myself down, I definitely don't want to let him down."

What we didn't know is that barely after George Iloka had gone to the  top of Zimmer's depth chart at safety, he broke a bone in his hand when he foolishly threw a punch at the helmet of rookie linebacker Jordan Campbell during a special teams drill as they traded blows.

Hard Knocks may have mispronounced his name, but it did a brilliant job capturing Iloka's apology to head coach Marvin Lewis as well as "my teammates, my coaches, and anybody else I may have hurt."

Lewis was left to only shake his head when Iloka told him he had broken his third metacarpal, reminding Iloka it was he that grabbed Campbell's face mask.

"It just doesn't make any sense. You can't do it on the field," Lewis said.

(It doesn't look like the injury is going to keep Iloka out of the Sept. 8 opener in Chicago, where he may have to play with a cast. But he'll miss the last two preseason games, great chances for Taylor Mays or rookie Shawn Williams to win the job.)

We also knew that the rookie show is one of the highlights of training camp, but we didn't know that Michigan wide receiver Roy Roundtree is now officially one of the 10 most hilarious guys in the league. His imitation of the eclectic Mays had his teammates rolling in the aisles.

Mays has been accused of showing off his physique by his buddies and Roundtree was dressed up virtually like a ballerina as he went preening through some drills.

The next best laugh was some celebrity look-alike photos, with Jermaine Gresham a dead ringer for Will Smith and Andrew Whitworth a double for Butterbean.

We knew that head coach Marvin Lewis is known as a player's coach, but what we didn't know is that he isn't beyond pranking them on the big screen in the big meeting room.

Somehow Lewis got hold of a video of Bengals president Mike Brown giving running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis a lift in his golf cart to the practice field. Lewis solemnly began the prank by intoning, "This is what I'm talking about being a good teammate and a role model." Lewis then rewound it a few times, heaping on the abuse, complete with circling BJGE patting Brown's knee as he got out of the cart.

We also knew that the young Bengals linebackers didn't play all that great in the win over Tennessee, but what we didn't know is that one of the reasons is because rookie Jayson DiManche was virtually gassed.

We knew that converted SAM backer Aaron Maybin wasn't going to be able to crack that young corps. And we knew his passion is painting. But we didn't know how it all tied into critics and being comfortable with one's self and realizing it's only the good fight that matters until the show wrapped it up in a neat little bow, bookending the episode with Maybin painting and then being released.

And we knew that Harrison detests the Hard Knocks cameras. Really detests them. But we didn't know he had second thoughts and allowed a crew to film his acupuncture session.

But then, Harrison must only detest them in the locker room.

Point (and several points) made.

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