What to expect ahead of HBO’s Hard Knocks featuring Detroit Lions

Episode 1 airs Tuesday at 10 p.m.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 05: Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions celebrates with head coach Dan Campbell after defeating the Minnesota Vikings 29-27 to win their first game of the season at Ford Field on December 05, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) (Rey Del Rio, 2021 Getty Images)

DETROIT – The city of Detroit is buzzing about the upcoming Detroit Lions footage on Hard Knocks, as more than 18,000 fans filled Ford Field for Family Fest last Saturday.

Fans are clambering for the inside look at the team on HBO. The premiere episode is set to air at 10p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 9).

EpisodeAir dateTime (EST)ChannelLive stream
Episode 1Aug. 910 p.m.HBOHBO Max
Episode 2Aug. 1610 p.m.HBOHBO Max
Episode 3Aug. 2310 p.m.HBOHBO Max
Episode 4Aug. 3010 p.m.HBOHBO Max
Episode 5Sept 610 p.m.HBOHBO Max

One Pride nation is looking to feast upon opponents during the 2022 season, as expectations are through the roof.

To be the team selected for the show, Detroit beat out a big market team like the New York Jets and the up-and-coming Carolina Panthers that feature Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, Robbie Anderson, and the recently acquired Baker Mayfield.

The Lions also beat out the Green Bay Packers, the Washington Commanders, and the Kansas City Chiefs to win the opportunity to host the 2024 NFL Draft. In a sense that made them 2-0 this offseason.

Read: Detroit celebrates 2024 NFL Draft

The Lions also won the 2022 NFL Draft after selecting the best player of the draft at No. 2 and then fleecing division foe Minnesota for the No. 12 pick in the same draft to improve during the offseason to 3-0.

Read: Breaking down the 2022 Detroit Lions draft class

Being an NFL fan at this time of year is exciting and stressful for most organizations as injuries, contract talks, and free agent signings are in the works.

Those topics are what the series will feature as Detroit, for the first time in the show’s history, has met the necessary requirements to be selected.

  • They have a head coach who’s not in his first year.
  • They haven’t made the playoffs in the previous two seasons (They haven’t made the playoffs since they fell to the Seattle Seahawks 26-6 in 2016).
  • They have not been featured on the program within the last 10 seasons.

For those of you who are not familiar with Hard Knocks, it’s a series of weekly episodes that give an inside look into an NFL team’s preseason and training camp ahead of the new season.

The NFL Films crew will dive deep into the preparation of executive vice president Brad Holmes, head coach Dan Campbell, the hometown kid Aidan Hutchinson, tailbacks D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, tight end T.J. Hockenson, cornerback Jeff Okudah, defensive end Joshua Paschal, the wide receiver group and starting quarterback Jared Goff.

Jared Goff

Goff and Campbell are in year two of the new regime, and like the Lions fanbase, they both have high hopes for the 2022 season.

“People outside the building can’t see it, obviously,” said Goff to NBC Sports. “But we have a plan, and we’re all in. People see some of what Dan says, and that’s great. But I can tell you Dan knows what the hell he’s talking about, and he’s got the respect of that locker room.”

Goff finished year one as the Lions starter with a 3-10-1 record while throwing the pigskin for 3,245 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Those numbers are why the Lions have no primetime games this year.

The league feels the team may not draw viewers or revenue, but they’re giving Detroit and starving football fans an inside look at the organization.

Why would the NFL and HBO select the same old Lions, who’ve only won eight games in the past two seasons, to represent the shield?

Dan Campbell

Campbell finished year one as the Lions head man with a 3-13-1 record, but the team finished the final six games of the regular season playing hard with an impressive 3-3 record, which caught the football world’s attention.

The team has a lot of future stars on its roster, but football fans worldwide all know who the cameras will be on the most, and that’s (M)otor (C)ity (D)an (C)ampbell.

With that in mind, what should the viewers expect to see from the live wired leading man?

Will he give us coach speak, or will he be animated like rapper Busta Rhymes and actually bring out a real-life lion to use for motivation?

During the Lions Family Fest last Saturday, Campbell, in front of over 18,000 fans, decided to give those who were in attendance some words of encouragement.

“Hello, Motor City,” said Campbell. “This is unbelievable. Look at you guys. Listen, I would say this, you guys have heard me say this, but I think what makes Detroit special is the fact that, man, you guys will roll your sleeves up and put in a hard day’s work. And I think we want to model ourselves after that. I tell you what, you would give your coat in winter to somebody that needed it. That’s what this community’s about; however, Nobody will take advantage of our hospitality. So, that’s what we’re about; This team is working their rear off to give you something to be proud of. They’re grinding it out right now, and I know this, we are freaking starving, so the hyenas better get out of the way.”

Campbell is the type of guy who will do everything that he asks of his team, as he, too, was once a player, so he understands the grind.

Detroit Lions Dan Campbell during a game between the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on November 12, 2006. The 49ers won 19 to 13. (Photo by Terrell Lloyd/Getty Images) (Photo?Terrell Lloyd/WireImage)

But he is not the only former player to grace the presence in the organization.

Including Campbell, the Lions have 10 guys who know what it takes to be successful in the NFL, like:

  • Special Assistant, President, and CEO Chris Spielman
  • Assistant General Manager Ray Agnew
  • Head Coach Dan Campbell
  • Defensive Coordinator Aaron Glenn
  • Defensive Backs Coach, Passing Game Coordinator Aubrey Pleasant
  • Offensive Line Coach Hank Fraley
  • Linebackers Coach Kelvin Sheppard
  • Quarterbacks Coach Mark Brunell
  • Wide Receivers Coach Antwan Randle El
  • Assistant Head Coach, Running Backs Coach Duce Staley

Staley has a running back room filled with some talented backs, but the most outgoing who should capture the audience’s attention is Williams.

Jamaal Williams

Williams is the No. 2 running back on the roster, but he might be the most spontaneous player, as his giddy personality should make him the talk of the town.

If you’re unfamiliar with Williams’ shenanigans, he once portrayed himself as SpongeBob while describing to the media what it was like to play an NFL game in the rain. When the temperature transitioned into snow, he said he felt like he was a character from the movie Frozen.

“I felt like SpongeBob for a minute, then it started snowing,” said Williams. “I felt like Frozen. I was like, ‘alright, here we go, Olaf time.’ Then it went back to raining, so I felt like SpongeBob.”

ALLEN PARK, MICHIGAN - JULY 29: Jamaal Williams #30 of the Detroit Lions laughs during the Detroit Lions Training Camp at the Lions Headquarters and Training Facility on July 29, 2022 in Allen Park, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) (2022 Nic Antaya)

If quotes like this don’t get Lions fans fired up, then maybe watching the hometown kid attacking the quarterback will get them going.

Aidan Hutchinson

The guy to watch on the defensive side of the ball is Hutchinson. Holmes drafted the Michigan man with the No. 2 pick in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He was thought to have been the best player leading up to the draft, with most experts projecting him to go first overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the team down in Duval County thought otherwise.

Hutchinson is a fellow Michigander, as he graduated from Divine Child High School in Dearborn, which is less than 20 minutes away from the Lions practice facility, so look for the film crew to follow the hometown kid around while also getting an inside look at his friends and family.

Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson stands next to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Detroit Lions as the second pick in the NFL football draft Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong ) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Goff told The Pivot podcast during training camp that Hutchinson might have had the best rookie song performance as he performed Michael Jackson’s, Billie Jean.

“He sung Billie Jean and had the whole place going,” Goff said. “It was the best rookie song I’ve ever seen, and it will be unbelievable.”

That performance plus his athletic skill set will be something to look forward to ahead of episode one.

Joshua Paschal

Paschal is the Lions 2022 second-round pick out of Kentucky.

Yes, he is a highly touted defensive end, but his story is more prominent than football. He was the Wildcats only three-time team captain in program history, but he is also a cancer survivor who just recently had hernia surgery back in July, so a look into his journey into prosperity should blossom.

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - NOVEMBER 20: Joshua Paschal #4 of the Kentucky Wildcats against the New Mexico State Aggies at Kroger Field on November 20, 2021 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) (2021 Getty Images)

Jeff Okudah

The Lions defense was ranked last in 2021, but one of their most memorable moments featured Okudah, the former No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 draft, getting chewed out by Pleasant for poor technique.

Okudah gave up a 79-yard touchdown pass to San Francisco 49ers playmaker Deebo Samuel before tearing his Achilles in the same game.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 27: Jeff Okudah #30 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after tackling DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter at State Farm Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) (2020 Getty Images)

He will look to finally get back on track in year three, which is what Glenn is expecting as he told the media that he sees Okudah playing all 17 games this season.

Wide receivers

The talk of the town during the 2021 season was how the team was bereft of talent at the wide receiver position, which is why the organization went out and acquired a few new weapons to help expand Goff’s game.

One of the guys currently making noise during training camp is Quintez Cephus, who is looking to make the proverbial leap this year. Cephus was balling last season before going down with a broken collarbone.

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 20: Quintez Cephus #87 of the Detroit Lions celebrates a touchdown with teammate Jared Goff #16 during the first half against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 20, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) (2021 Getty Images)

Cephus was off to another hot start but is sidelined with a recent leg injury, and reports indicate that he could miss time during camp.

Before the injury, Cephus was in a position battle with Josh Reynolds, D.J. Chark, newly drafted Jameson Williams, and 2021 breakout star Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Amon-Ra St. Brown

The sun god (St. Brown) took off like a rocket down the stretch of the season, which brought a lot of optimism for this year, as he is pushing to be the face of the Lions receiving core.

St. Brown is creating a name for himself as he draws comparisons to former Pittsburgh Steelers great Hines Ward, someone wide receivers coach Antwan Randle El knows well.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 05: Amon-Ra St. Brown #14 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after catching a touchdown as time expired to defeat the Minnesota Vikings 29-27 at Ford Field on December 05, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) (2021 Getty Images)

Williams is coming off of an ACL tear that he suffered during his time at Alabama. He will likely begin his rookie campaign on the physically unable to perform list, but when he is fully healthy, Goff will look for the speedster to take advantage at Ford Field.

Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams poses on the red carpet before the first round of the NFL football draft Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong ) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

What are your expectations for the show, and which players would you prefer the cameras to follow?

Read: A look at the 2022 Detroit Lions preseason, regular season schedule


About the Author:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.