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Hard Knocks: Detroit Lions players’ dad blasts Kevin Durant

Detroit Lions' Amon-Ra St. Brown
Detroit Lions' Amon-Ra St. Brown (Image credit: Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Do you even lift bro? That was basically the question that one Detroit Lions player’s dad had for NBA superstar Kevin Durant on Hard Knocks episode 2. Just one of the many highlights from another fun look into the training camp of the Lions, which this week also featured highlights from the team’s first preseason game.

Amon-Ra St. Brown got a spotlight in this week’s episode of Hard Knocks. The second-year wide receiver broke a number of Detroit Lions’ records in his rookie season, but he is still fueled by being passed over by so many teams in the NFL Draft (he can name every receiver that went before him in the draft and the college they attended). That drive is shown in his training regiment, which includes catching 202 balls from the jugs machine every day and doing weight lifting with his dad — two-time Mr. Universe John Brown.

After winning the bodybuilding competition in the early 80s, Brown is still intense in the gym and pushes his sons (Amon-Ra and his brother Equanimeous St. Brown, also in the NFL) to do the same. Brown is a strong believer in what maintaining a strong physique can do for athletes, so much so that he questions one of the most well-known athletes in the world on his workout habits, Kevin Durant. 

With the two-time NBA champion having dealt with calf injuries in recent seasons, Brown posed the question: "when was the last time you [Durant] did a calf raise?" That was enough for Brown to become a fan favorite from the episode. 

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Probably the other breakout star so far this season has been assistant head coach Duce Staley. After having a spirited trash talking session with his friend and fellow coach Aaron Glenn in episode 1, Staley continued to be a blast every time he was on screen: motivating his group of running backs, particularly D’Andre Swift, to reach their full potential and just bursting with energy. He’s been an absolute blast to watch.

On the player side, while 2022 first-round pick Aidan Hutchinson again got a spotlight and had some big plays during his first game action (including another nod to Michael Jackson), another rookie is making a strong impression on the coaches. Sixth-round draft pick Malcolm Rodriguez has been an early standout in the coaches’ eyes for his intensity, smart plays and hard hits. Every year a less heralded player breaks through and becomes a star during Hard Knocks, Rodriguez has taken the early lead in that category after this most recent episode.

The episode ended with the Lions’ first NFL preseason game, which took place on August 12, against the Atlanta Falcons. The footage showed that even though it is more or less an exhibition game, the Lions took it seriously, including the heartbreaking mistakes that led to a late comeback by the Falcons to beat the Lions 27-23.

The first round of cuts and another preseason game are likely to be part of the next episode of Hard Knocks, but in the meantime here are some more fan reactions to the episodes, including none other than proud Michigan son, Jeff Daniels (yes, he of Dumb and Dumber and The Newsroom) and an interesting fact about Hard Knock's narrator, Liev Schreiber:

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New episodes of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Detroit Lions debut on Tuesdays at 10 pm ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max. UK viewers can watch Hard Knocks Thursdays at 5 pm UK time on Sky Sports Arena.

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun.