Hard Knocks recap: Season finale

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker

HBO concluded an interesting season of “Hard Knocks” featuring the Cincinnati Bengals Wednesday night.

Here were the highlights:

Synopsis: The Bengals wrap up their preseason and experience one of the most difficult days of the year when it’s time to reduce the roster to 53 players. Cincinnati goes out and puts a 38-7 thrashing on the Indianapolis Colts, as a lot of players perform well and make for some tough last-minute decisions.

Ocho drop-o: Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco, who has been one of the biggest stars of the season, tells a lie right off the bat by saying he’s dropped only two passes all summer. Veteran safety Roy Williams calls him out on it and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer gives Ocho a “Child please!” When HBO rolls the tape, the network shows a half-dozen drops from Ochocinco, proving Williams and Zimmer correct.

Funny moment No. 1: The league provides the Bengals with rules of communicating through the Internet. While Bengals coach Marvin Lewis goes down the list of social-networking sites, he says, “Facebook, whatever that’s called.” It’s safe to assume Lewis doesn’t have a Facebook account.

Funny moment No. 2: The show went into the origin of the “Who-Dey” chant, which started with the good Bengal teams of the 1980s. Said rookie linebacker Rey Maualuga, who played for USC and is from California: “It’s a little corny. But, you know, it’s part of the program.”

Rise and fall: Rookie tight end Chase Coffman continues to baffle Cincinnati’s coaching staff. The third-round pick began training camp slow and way behind on the depth chart. It then appeared he was making strides in the middle of camp, as injuries to the position helped propel him. But Coffman has continued his roller-coaster ride and fallen back to third string, according to the coaches, as they prepare for the regular season.

Cut time: The Bengals had to cut 20-plus players to get down to their 53-man roster. There were very few surprises, with the exception of keeping both Brian Leonard and DeDe Dorsey, which I agree was the right call.

Grade: B

Why: Naturally, roster cuts were the biggest part of the show, so most football and Bengals fans knew the ending before tuning in. Still, it was interesting to watch the process. In the best scene of the show, it was surreal to watch the coaching staff discuss and determine the future and livelihoods of so many people. Then viewers also got to see the process of each player waiting to be called. Overall, it was a great job by HBO to put a spotlight on a team few football fans cared about on a national scale. Any victory for the Bengals is a victory for the AFC North.