The 'Hard Knocks' Fallout
CB Vontae Davis
CB Vontae Davis
Associate Editor
Posted Aug 8, 2012


The day after the "Hard Knocks" premiere, Vontae Davis and Les Brown didn't have an issue talking about their often-negative portrayal on the HBO show. Chad Johnson, though, had nothing to say.

"Hard Knocks" showed Coach Joe Philbin admonishing Johnson after his wildly entertaining but equally profane press conference early in training camp.

Philbin went so far as saying in a one-on-one "Hard Knocks" interview that a repeat performance might put Johnson's job in jeopardy.

When he was approached by reporters following Tuesday's walk-through inside the practice bubble, Johnson simply said: "I don't do media anymore."

Philbin is hoping the issue is a thing of the past, although he's not ready to assume anything.

“Time will tell, time will tell," Philbin said Tuesday. "There’s a right way to kind of represent this organization and yourself, and there’s a way that’s not going to be us. I can sit here and say, oh yeah it’s done, but time will tell.”

Philbin said his stance about Johnson needing to clean up his act hasn't changed.

“Everybody has an obligation to get on board with the program," Philbin said. "We’re not going to be a great football team if we’ve got 51 guys who are doing it a certain way and we’ve got two guys who are on their own program. It’s too hard. We’ve got to get guys who think the same way. If somebody doesn’t want to buy into the program, yeah, that’s a problem.”

Given his outgoing personality and constant trash talking, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that Johnson was featured more prominently than just about anything else Tuesday.

But Johnson did tell reporters during his training camp press conference that he wasn't paying attention to the NFL Films cameras and hadn't sat down for any interviews.

“Actually, I thought Chad was being quiet, being different," said defensive tackle Randy Starks. "But then when I saw the show, I was like, OK, he’s back to his old self.”

Philbin said he didn't watch the premiere episode of this season's "Hard Knocks," and the same went for Davis.

Davis said he was reading, although he got some text messages about the show. He also got a phone call.

“My grandma called me and said, ‘Get in shape, baby. It’s going to be a long season,’ ” Davis said. “I said, ‘I know. I’m working every day.’ ”

It has been a rough few days for Davis, and the "Hard Knocks" premiere was just the latest setback.

The 2009 first-round pick was portrayed in a harsher light than anybody else in Tuesday's episode.

In order, Davis was shown telling safety Reshad Jones during a practice that he was tired and needed to act as though he was fine; listening to defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo tell him he needed to play harder; and finally having Philbin ask him whether he had taken care of his bladder so he would stop leaving practice to go to the bathroom.

The show came one day after Davis, who started 27 of his 28 games the last two seasons, was listed second on the depth chart at cornerback behind free agent acquisition Richard Marshall.

“I didn’t watch it, but I heard,” Davis said Tuesday. “They say the coach got on me about being tired. It’s why I’m here at training camp. Gotta work hard to get better every day.”

Davis said he doesn't have an issue dealing with criticism.

“Man, I’m good," he said. "If you don’t go through things and know what can get you better, then you won’t get better. It’s good. I’m hard on myself, I love criticism, that’s why I can get better and perform to the best of my ability.”

Philbin said the notion that Davis is in the coaches’ doghouse or has fallen out of favor is inaccurate.

“We think he’s actually been practicing a little bit better as of late,” Philbin said. “He’s one of the 90 guys. There’s not one player, there’s no one coach on this team who doesn’t need to improve and keep working and do a better job.

“Once a player arrives here, it doesn’t matter to me whether he was a first-round pick or not. And I said to Vontae, aside from even the bladder conversation, look, if nobody was on you, you should really get concerned. I think he understands that.”

Brown, meanwhile, first was mentioned as a feel-good story, with tackle Will Yeatman telling guard Eric Steinbach about his background as a former college basketball player and accountant who hadn't played football since his senior year of high school in 2005.

But tight ends coach Dan Campbell is then show telling the rest of the coaching staff about Brown's blocking deficiencies, which is followed by a series of shots showing Brown winding up on the ground after trying to block a defender.

“It would be nice if there was a nice play thrown in there," Brown said. "I mean, it’s kind of a montage of all the bad ones. That’s going to happen. That’s what they do. That’s how TV works sometimes and that’s fine. You can’t get caught up in all that stuff.

“I can’t control what they put on the show. It’s fun for the fans and it’s fun for the people outside to see what’s going on training camp. It’s not a big deal.”

There was a bright spot for Brown, though.

He was shown talking with his girlfriend after a practice.

“I think a lot of the guys were kind of surprised that I have an attractive girlfriend," Brown said. "They kind of pinned me for being like a nerdy dweeb from Utah or an accountant or whatever. I think that’s probably the most I’ve heard from the guys in the locker room.”


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