HBO's "Hard Knocks" concluded Tuesday night with some breaking news, as coach Hue Jackson told Baker Mayfield he would be the backup quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. The overwhelming emphasis of the finale, though, was on the travails of players living on the bubble during final cuts.
Here are a few highlights:
"Is he going to jail?": The episode opened with a dramatic segment on the team learning of federal charges filed against linebacker Mychal Kendricks for insider trading.
Teammates found out about the charges from local broadcasts on televisions hanging in the facility. Jackson and general manager John Dorsey watched from Jackson's office the news conference in which the Philadelphia federal prosecutor announced the charges.
Clearly, the Browns were blindsided by the news.
Another shot centered on offensive coordinator Todd Haley talking with Dorsey and asking: "Is he going to jail?"
The Browns eventually released Kendricks, who indeed could be looking at jail time.
"There's decisions and there's consequences," Jackson said, "and sometimes consequences are life-altering."
On the bubble: The bulk of the show dealt with four players fighting for a job: Defensive linemen Nate Orchard and Carl Nassib, tight end Devon Cajuste and quarterback Brogan Roback. The stories humanized all the players, showing Orchard with his two young children, Roback with his girlfriend and Cajuste with his father.
Orchard actually got some instruction at one point from second-year end Myles Garrett, who marveled upon discovering that Orchard had different stances for run plays and pass plays.
"You ever try just having the same stance for both?" Garrett said.
"I haven't," Orchard said. "I should try it though."
When Orchard admitted it might take him a little longer if he had a run stance for a pass play, Garrett opined he only had 2½ seconds to get to the quarterback.
Cajuste's heartwarming story of the close bond with his father was central to the story. Gregory Cajuste could not make the trip to Detroit for the team's final preseason game because of his heart issues. But he watched intently on TV.
Cajuste got off to a good start against the Lions, but late in the first half he rolled both of his ankles. It had to affect him, as he did not finish as strong as he started.
The impact of making the team or getting cut was evident, as Gregory Cajuste lived and died with each play. Likewise, Roback's girlfriend, Ally Goff, wept at the sight of his touchdown pass.
Orchard did not make the team despite returning an interception for a touchdown in the preseason finale. Roback had an impressive scoring strike, but he also was released in the first wave of cuts. Nassib forced a fumble and made the initial cut, but when the Browns picked up another player at his position on waivers, he was released. Cajuste was released in the final cuts.
Players handled their release with class. All said they would stick with it and continue to pursue their dream of playing in the NFL.
Haley humor: Haley might have been the star of the entire series with his biting wit and humor. Every time he saw a baby on the big screen in Detroit, he quipped "Oh look at Carl; let's name him Carl," a reference to an earlier episode when Haley joked he could not see giving a baby the name Carl.
A couple of his other better lines related to Cajuste's rock and crystal collection.
When Mayfield told Cajuste on their way to the field in Detroit with Haley to "treat the ball like one of your rocks," Haley chimed in with: "Block like you're blocking for one of your rocks."
During the game, Haley paced the sidelines and said: "Pray to the rock gods."
It was good, but not as good as Haley earlier in the series telling Zane Gonzalez after a field goal: "Nice job, you f---ing kicker."
Quotable: "He's my superstar, regardless." -- Gregory Cajuste, speaking of his son Devon in the week before final cuts. Could anything sum up this pair's relationship better?