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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain
HBO's popular "Hard Knocks" is taking a season off because of the lockout, but with the free-agency frenzy we just experienced, it would be quite the year to have the show back on, as personnel offices hustled to sign, re-sign and cut players.
Teams took the first week of free agency to make changes, and some clubs brought new, colorful characters into their locker rooms.
For the following list, we took into consideration how moves that were made since the lockout ended would make a team a great candidate to be the subject of the hypothetical 2011 version of "Hard Knocks."
1. New England Patriots — The Patriots would obviously (a) always be a great choice for "Hard Knocks" because of a desire to watch Bill Belichick work his magic, while (b) never coming close to agreeing to be on the show because of their secrecy. But the additions of WR Chad Ochocinco and DT Albert Haynesworth make the Pats' training camp one to watch this offseason. Can you imagine being behind the scenes as Belichick shouts orders at Ochocinco and Haynesworth? Watching Haynesworth try to pass the conditioning test would be HBO-worthy drama by itself. Watching Ochocinco try to balance his usual shtick and the "Patriot Way" would be good for TV.
2. Philadelphia Eagles — Reality television is all about suspense and drama; add in a little bit of a mystery and everyone is on board. In no city was there a better mix of all those things recently than in Philly. The Eagles started free agency by signing DE Jason Babin and QB Vince Young and then pulled off the shock of the year by winning the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes. They also added former Packers DT Cullen Jenkins. Add in the Kevin Kolb trade, DeSean Jackson's holdout and the intense media scrutiny surrounding QB Michael Vick, and you've got must-see TV.
3. New York Jets — While the Jets proved last year they are always a great subject for "Hard Knocks," thanks to Rex Ryan, they make this list as well because of one free-agent acquisition: Plaxico Burress. Everyone wants to see how Burress looks after spending 22 months in prison. He has not played in an NFL game since the middle of the '08 season. How will he mesh with Mark Sanchez and the rest of the characters on the Jets? It will also be interesting to see the dynamic with Antonio Cromartie, who knows that the team would have rather had Nnamdi Asomugha. But it's the one big addition, Burress, who would make the Jets instant entertainment this offseason.
4. Chicago Bears — Generally, the Bears would never be a top choice to be featured on "Hard Knocks." Their head coach, Lovie Smith, does not have a boisterous personality, and neither does their QB, Jay Cutler. But in our free-agent version of "Hard Knocks," the Bears would be quite the get for HBO. Chicago brought in RB Marion Barber, WR Roy Williams, DE Vernon Gholston and DT Amobi Okoye. All four players are in a position to prove that they can resurrect their careers with the Bears. They each have generally gotten more hype than they deserved based on production, and fans would want to see how they acclimate to the new surroundings. Plus, audiences love a comeback story, and there could be one, or four, brewing in Chicago.
5. Washington Redskins — Mike Shanahan's club has been busy in free agency, but other than trading mistakes Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb and signing some linemen, the 'Skins haven't done anything too flashy. Given the moves some of their NFC East rivals have made, Washington has been surprisingly low-key. Owner Dan Snyder likely wouldn't grant the access, but it would be a sight to behold watching the internal discussions taking place as Shanahan and his son, offensive coordinator Kyle, prepare former third-stringer John Beck to be the team's starting quarterback in 2011.
6. Houston Texans — It's make-or-break time for the Texans, and they approached free agency with that mindset. GM Rick Smith was aggressive in signing DBs Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning, looking to improve the defense to the same level the team's high-octane offense plays at. The team also has a new defensive coordinator in Wade Phillips, whom "Hard Knocks" fans will remember was quite entertaining a few years ago when he was head coach of the Cowboys.