THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Lamarcus Joyner's parents were back in Florida when the "Hard Knocks" finale aired Tuesday night, an episode that began with Joyner distraught over his role within the Los Angeles Rams' secondary and threatening to quit football altogether.
They started to freak out.
They thought he was coming back home the next day.
"Mom," Joyner said over the phone, "I have it under control. These my boys over here."
The fifth and final episode of "Hard Knocks," the HBO reality series that followed the Rams through training camp, began with Joyner missing from a walk-through, then meeting behind closed doors with longtime coach Jeff Fisher, demanding clarity on his role and telling him, in part, "I can go work at Walmart. I don't need these people's money."
His mom had no idea he felt that way until "Hard Knocks" aired.
"I don't go home and cry about it," Joyner said after Thursday's practice. "I go to the head man. I go to my dad [in this case Fisher]. If you a child, you want something, you go to your parents. You might be frustrated, you might be the child that wants the candy in the store. But they don't think it's time for you to eat that candy right now. It is what it is."
It was quite the contrary with Fisher, however. The fifth-year Rams coach sold Joyner on being his inside defensive back in nickel packages, telling him it's the toughest position to play and it means he's a starter, because the team runs the formation so frequently. Fisher then told a perseverance story about former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair, and then -- though some scenes might have been deleted -- he and Joyner hugged.
Joyner was playful while reliving it two days later.
"That's why I don't watch TV," Joyner said, smiling and shaking his head. "It's entertainment for a reason. None of it is real. Man, I love this place, my coaches love me. That's just a little passion; that wasn't nothing serious. ... Coach Fisher wasn't paying me any attention. They know I love this game. I'll have ups and downs. I'm a little more emotional than most guys, I guess. My mom raised me. It's all love. I'm here."
Asked whether he's good with his role now, Joyner summoned professional wrestling.
"You ever watch WWF? You ever heard when The Rock say, 'Know your role and shut your mouth'? I mean, once you got a role, you just know your role and you do your job. That's all, man. I'm just ready to have fun. Nickel's a big part of our defensive scheme.”
Joyner isn't very big -- he's listed at 5-foot-8 and 184 pounds, making him bigger than only Tavon Austin -- but he is fiery. The Rams love his tenacity and ability as a cover corner and will rely on him heavily, especially since linebacker Akeem Ayers is gone. Joyner, 25, gets that now. He said he meant "no disrespect to this organization, and they didn't take it that way."
"I mean, it's TV," he added. "TV sells. That's why they was here. We're in L.A.; they need a story. And I gave it to them."
In the end, Joyner just wanted clarity.
"That's it," he said.
Then he smiled.
"My mom got to see me on TV. I'm happy."
Some additional notes from Thursday's practice at Cal Lutheran University:
The Rams released linebacker Nic Grigsby and signed cornerback Steve Williams, giving them six cornerbacks and five linebackers. Guard David Arkin was signed to the practice squad and running back Terrence Magee was taken off.
Linebacker Bryce Hager (concussion) and tackle Rob Havenstein (foot) were listed as limited participants. Wide receivers Pharoh Cooper (shoulder) and Nelson Spruce (knee) sat out, as did cornerback E.J. Gaines (thigh).