Hard Times & Hard Knocks

It’s baaack! Training camps for America’s favorite sport have convened across the country. Hard times and hard knocks will soon befall each team. But if you’re the Houston Texans, it’s already happened.

HBO’s Hard Knocks returns August 11 with the first of its five-episode run featuring the Texans. Houston may not have been the popular choice, but the team has a number of intriguing story lines to keep viewers tuned-in.

Two-time Defensive Player of the Year and overall showman, JJ Watt, will obviously be a focal point of the series. An All-American on and off the field, his epic off-season activities with Jennifer Aniston, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Zac Brown Band (to name but a few), could fill an entire show alone. In fact, many Houstonians felt the Rockets should have brought him on board for their playoff run due to his incredible “shot-blocking” abilities. He will indeed be fun to watch.

But the most compelling storyline has to be the competition for quarterback, even more vital now with the loss of All-Pro running back, Arian Foster. For a team with a history of hard times, this loss seems unusually cruel. All eyes will be on Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett as they battle for the starting role. Fans and media have serious doubts about the Hoyer-Mallett tandem being a quality one, which will make their rivalry all the more interesting.

And for you Patriots fans that are tired of hearing about the PSI in footballs and what’s on Tom Brady’s cell phone, you’re in luck! Several former Pats are on the Texans roster. Both Mallett and Hoyer duked it out to be Brady’s backup just a few years ago. And new defensive tackle, Vince Wilfork, will also likely be featured on Hard Knocks as he transitions from Foxboro to Texas.

The show will also give viewers a better feel for the Texans second year Head Coach, Bill O’Brien. Coming from the Belichick tree, O’Brien has a dry sense of humor and a no-nonsense approach. And it’s no secret that he can yell with the best of ‘em. Profane or not, watching him will be entertaining.

There are a number of other players and story lines I could cover, but I’ll leave those to HBO.

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