One episode into the new season of Hard Knocks and I have to admit, there seem to be forces at play I was unaware of, conspiring against former Syracuse linebacker Cam Lynch getting any meaningful screen time in the premiere. Cam did pop up here and there in an episode that followed the standard Hard Knocks formula while reminding the viewer at every possible turn that, yes, the Rams are back in California.

Let’s get to those forces at work to keep Cam off the screen, though. The first is that, as it happens, his fellow linebacker Alec Ogletree had a baby in the week leading up to preseason camp opening. Another guy at the same position having a newborn baby just prior to the start of camp? Of course that’s the linebacker they’re going to focus on.

I also called the fact that having a birthday in the first week of camp could get you some screen time. Cam’s birthday was August 4, after all. Little did I know that Todd Gurley’s birthday was the day before. So again – of course they’re going to devote the brief “birthday” segment to one of the league’s rising stars.

I’m telling you guys, Cam is getting thwarted by some kind of weird higher power. Probably from Georgetown.

Anyway, Cam did make a few appearances here and there. If you haven’t seen the episode yet, he popped up running sprints about 15 minutes in, making his first appearance of the season. He later dominated a special teams drill (the first rep they showed during a sequence in which special teams work was juxtaposed with the rest of the team doing yoga). Cam got to kind of say his first “dialogue” a little later, when he went over to say hello to Kendrick Lamar, who dropped by practice.

All in all, Cam Lynch is going to have to work to get a little more screen time, because it’s already pretty clear that the three people the series is currently most interested in focusing on are head coach Jeff Fisher, quarterback Jared Goff, and defensive lineman Aaron Donald. Todd Gurley is another player getting solid screen time, as is center Eric Kush, who only seems to own one shirt with sleeves. He’s very proud of that fact.

Some other stray thoughts from the episode:

  • Like I said, they are playing up the whole “California” thing like freaking crazy. Virtually every song choice was either by a California band or included the word “California” in the song’s title. The most blatant examples were the uses of the song “California Dreamin'” and, even more blatantly, the Red Hot Chili Peppers track “Californication.”
  • They also randomly had a pair of Rams players lifting weights at Muscle Beach. Because yeah, sure. NFL players probably frequent Muscle Beach rather than using what are no doubt state of the art facilities at the team’s complex.
  • Cal-Berkeley is an excellent school. It enjoys one of the best academic profiles of any college in the US. So I have one question: how the fuck did Jared Goff get into Berkeley if he didn’t even know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west? Listen up here, Goff. My 5-year-old son can find goddamn Bahrain on a map, and you don’t even know where the sun rises and sets. What I’m saying is that Jared Goff is, apparently, an idiot, and my son should already be getting early admission from Cal.
  • Aaron Donald hates losing. He played – and lost – a ping pong match and stormed out of the room. He must have really loved those 25 losses during his career at Pitt. And I’m allowed to take that shot because Syracuse only had 23 losses over that same period. Suck it, Pitt.
  • One of the thing that has gotten the most attention so far was when Jeff Fisher cut wide receiver Deon Long for breaking team rules and having a visitor up to his room. Don’t feel too badly for Long, though. He’s currently in camp with the Eagles.
  • Speaking of Fisher, it was hilarious when he called Long’s rule-breaking “some real 7-9 bullshit.” In his time with the Rams, these are the team’s records under Fisher: 7-8-1, 7-9, 6-10, 7-9. In other words, he’s an expert on 7-9 bullshit, so we have to give him the benefit of the doubt that Long’s behavior lives up to that record.
  • Cam Lynch wasn’t the only Syracuse connection on the first episode, by the way. Andrew Siciliano, a Syracuse alum who hosts NFL Total Access and the Red Zone channel, made an early appearance in the episode.

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Jeff is a 2003 graduate of Syracuse University, and has been published on various websites including,,,, and, among others. His work was featured in the New York Times bestselling book You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News. He's got a wife, and a toddler he's brainwashing to love Syracuse. Jeff's a pretty great guy, overall, and would never steal your car. Follow him on Twitter: @jekelish