Lowery: 'Hard Knocks' can aid with focus

New Atlanta Falcons free safety Dwight Lowery knows firsthand all about the HBO series "Hard Knocks."

And Lowery knows things can get ugly.

Lowery was a part of the award-winning documentary in 2010 while a member of the New York Jets. He was a spectator for what they called the "King Ugly" competition between the rookies.

"That thing was hilarious," Lowery recalled. "Pretty much the players voted for who the ugliest player on the team was. You had to put money in as your vote. Whoever got third place, they got 75 percent of the pot. Second place got 25 percent of the pot. And first place didn't get anything, because they were so ugly. Some defensive back won, too (Brian Jackson).

"I just watched it the other day. And watching it, knowing that I was in those seats, it brings back a lot of memories."

Maybe Lowery's second appearance on "Hard Knocks" will be memorable as well. The Falcons were chosen as this year's team to be followed throughout training camp. It seems like a curious choice, considering how Mike Smith is a no-nonsense head coach. At the same time, it should be great exposure for team owner Arthur Blank as he prepares to open a new stadium in 2017.

It's fair to wonder if this could be a distraction for a team coming off a 4-12 season. Well, the "Hard Knocks jinx" was dispelled by Lowery's Jets, who went 11-5 and made it to the AFC Championship Game after finishing 9-7 the season before the filming.

"Honestly, my point of view is this: If you're not able to function when there are cameras around at the facility or practice or wherever, how are you going to go out and win a football game with 60,000 people in the stands?" Lowery posed. "You're on national TV. Cameras are rolling. If you're a team that's fortunate to go all the way, Super Bowl week has become crazier and crazier as the years have progressed. There is going to be a lot of that kind of hoopla and jazz going on that you need to focus in that type of situation as well.

"Hopefully, it will be something that we can use for energy on those days in camp where it gets hard and long; kind of keep the mood light, I guess. I honestly don't think it will be a distraction. If it is, I think only at first because it's brand new. I think three weeks into training camp, guys will get accustomed to them being there and actually kind of get sick of it."

Lowery might be part of the storylines if a competition evolves between himself and rookie Dez Southward. So far, Lowery had solidified his role as the starter next to strong safety William Moore with a strong offseason.

As far as the rest of the players, the cameras are sure to capture Julio Jones' return to practice from season-ending foot surgery, the addition of Jake Matthews to the offensive line, and likely the progress of rookies Devonta Freeman and Ra'Shede Hageman based on their stories of overcoming humble beginnings.

Lowery was asked which player he believes will evolve as the star of the show.

"I don't know if there will be one guy, you know?" he said. "I think the receiver group is pretty entertaining. They have good energy. They have confidence. And it's a strength of the team, obviously.

"I think there are other individuals that could [emerge]. But it's hard to say because I don't really know how guys are going to be with the cameras on. Literally, you'll be sitting there eating or you'll be in your dorm and then the crew will just ask and come in your room. ... I know at first guys are going to be like, `What the hell?' It's weird. But you'll see characters develop as the time goes on and people settle down and start to be themselves."