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Oklahoma Sooners Football — Baker Mayfield on “Hard Knocks”: Episode 2 Recap

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Baker Mayfield shines in his preseason debut against the New York Giants. He also meets Jim Brown.

Cleveland Browns v New York Giants Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

While Episode 1 was focused heavily on Baker Mayfield, Episode 2 largely drifted away from him up until the preseason opener. However, Mayfield’s primary off-field airtime features an interaction with Cleveland Browns and general football legend Jim Brown.

Following his talk with Brown, Mayfield is shown going to work at practice. At one point, wide receiver Tee Higgins exclaims, “That boy won the Heisman.” Yes he did, Tee. He did, indeed.

Mayfield’s strong performance in practice foreshadowed his performance in his debut. You can tell from watching him on the sideline how amped he is to get in the game. After a brief, yet productive showing for Tyrod Taylor, he finally gets his shot, and he does not disappoint.

This drive was a great microcosm of the entire night for Mayfield. He stayed poised in the pocket, was able to make precise throws under pressure, and was able to take off and run to move the sticks when he needed to. At the NFL level, Baker will likely not break off the occasional long run like he did at Oklahoma, but he will be able to use his feet to move the sticks when needed. Since the guys are bigger, stronger and faster in the NFL, Baker apparently knows not to take hits for an extra couple yards at this level, as he appears much less reluctant to get out of bounds. We’ll see if that continues to be the case, but it seems like evidence of his continued maturation.

Aside from Baker, there were plenty of other interesting storylines covered in Episode 2 — the most interesting being how Browns rookie Wide Receiver Antonio Callaway was treated following an incident where he was pulled over and cited for driving with a suspended license and possession of marijuana. While marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license are both misdemeanors according to Ohio law, both offenses can be reduced to an infraction in practice with a negotiated disposition. Callaway will likely just have to pay some fines and fees to the court and be ordered to complete a certain amount of community service hours.

As for the punishment with the Cleveland Browns, Coach Hue Jackson and GM John Dorsey decided to punish Callaway by making him play every snap on offense during the first preseason game against the New York Giants. While this may not seem like punishment for a rookie wide receiver trying to earn playing time, Jackson emphasized to Callaway that he would be in deep doo-doo if he screws up again.

The way Jackson handled Callaway seems to epitomize his approach as a head coach. He’s a player’s coach who genuinely wants to help his guys. Sure, he gives impassioned speeches on the show, but when it comes down to laying down the hammer on guys like Callaway, he doesn’t exactly come down with a ton of force. He sometimes comes off as being too nice of a guy in these situations (particularly with Calloway, who has a rocky history), but his approach may prove to be beneficial in the long run for Calloway and others. Additionally, because of the way he treats his players, they seem to truly respect him. The jury is definitely still out on Hue Jackson, but he does make an interesting character for the show, and I find yourself rooting for him.

Speaking of wide receivers, the episode began by addressing the trade of former Baylor receiver Corey Coleman. Needless to say, this isn’t a great look.

Another interesting person covered on the show is former 2017 No. 1 overall pick DE Myles Garrett. While he’s a force on the field, he’s a mellow guy off the field who has a passion for poetry.

We’ll see if Garrett can make strides this season as a player and as the leader of a Cleveland defense that struggled last season.

While DC Gregg Williams is mostly known for his role in the infamous Bountygate Scandal during his tenure with the New Orleans Saints, he has proved himself to be a solid defensive coordinator in previous stops. As he seeks to rehabilitate his image, he continues to get after players to try to get the best out of them in an aggressive fashion. Williams and Todd Haley are perhaps providing a good balance in the coaching staff, since Hue Jackson appears to be a bit more a lot more laid back. However, I’m not sure how well Jackson’s attitude sits with his two coordinators.

One more entertaining moment from the show was the last scene (which is a reference to something from the final credits of the first episode) where Williams reveals that he has been given free throat lozenges because of how much he yells during games and practices.

“If it’s free, it’s me.”

On top of providing pure entertainment value, the show also focused on the inspiring story of journeyman tight end Devon Cajuste in Episode 2. The scenes with Cajuste and his father highlight how close of a bond they have and how thankful he is that his dad is still alive after a long list of health problems. During the first preseason game, Cajuste is shown playing hard and doing whatever it takes to make the roster, even with a bad shoulder. Baker Mayfield is also shown talking with Cajuste on the sideline during the game. If anyone understands fighting for everything and earning playing time on the field, it’s Baker Mayfield.