It was a big episode of Hard Knocks for Syracuse, though part of that reason was the unfortunate injury to linebacker Marquis Spruill, whose personality was shining brightly during his screen time. Unfortunately it looks like the second episode will also be the last for Marquis, while fellow Orangeman Jerome Smith will be hoping to stick around at least a few more weeks with cuts looming.
One of the big themes of the episode was the continued fighting during camp, with Ra’shede Hageman sustaining a bone bruise after deciding it was a wise idea to take a swing at someone’s helmet. Later in the episode when the Tennessee Titans came to town to practice with the Falcons, head coach Mike Smith made it clear that if anyone got into a fight with the visitors they’d be immediately kicked out of practice.
But of course, you don’t care about any of that. Let’s get right to the important stuff, like how our Syracuse guys fared in the episode? As I mentioned, Spruill was one of the high points, with his boisterous personality coming out as he, Smith, and Hageman prepared to go swimming with sharks. Spruill stole the spotlight early, busting on Hageman and voicing his belief that they would never be able to find a wetsuit large enough for the defensive lineman.
Spruill continued to acquit himself well in the episode when they got to the aquarium, and later at camp relaying to fellow rookie (and, as noted last week in this space, best friend of Durell Eskridge) Devonta Freeman how enormous the whale sharks were. Smith was present for pretty much all of these scenes as well, though he remained fairly quiet throughout. He was probably busy contemplating whether anyone has successfully placed hay in a barn.
And then, sadly, the shark scene was followed up almost immediately by a voiceover from narrator Liev Schreiber talking about how Spruill had a very good shot at making the final roster – and as soon as that sentence was finished, down went Spruill, clutching his left leg as teammates looked on wondering what had happened. A quick shot of Spruill in the training room, a voiceover explaining he had torn his ACL, and a quick soundbyte from Mike Smith about what an unfortunate turn it was for Marquis after working his whole life to get to this point, and that was it.
Chances are that’s the last we’ll see of Marquis on this season of Hard Knocks, but at least he earned himself some fans with his one moment in the spotlight, if Twitter is any indication.
Smith, meanwhile, didn’t really have much to do during the episode, but at least his name was finally flashed on screen when he accompanied Spruill and Hageman to the aquarium, later confirming to Freeman that, yes, a whale shark is as big as a school bus. Smith did get some partial spotlight during the closing credits, though it was due to Hageman’s stunned reaction to Jerome admitting he’d never heard of Lululemon yoga pants.
And of course that was one of the highlights of the episode, with Hageman absolutely incredulous, schooling Smith and everyone else in the vicinity on the importance of knowing Lululemon. And frankly, I’m with Ra’shede on this one. Jerome, you went to Syracuse, home of the Black Pants Brigade (at least, when I was a student at SU, that’s what we called them). Surely you’re familiar with these yoga pants, right?
The good news for Jerome is that he’s still with the team. The bad news is that with Steven Jackson and Freeman clearly the top two backs, there aren’t going to be many spots open, and in a couple weeks the roster is going to drop by about 30 spots. Fingers crossed Jerome can impress and keep earning his spot in the locker room.