Episode 3 of “Hard Knocks” was light on Aaron Rodgers content but heavier on under-the-radar player stories, a message (and some bling) from New York Jets team owner Woody Johnson and head coach Robert Saleh’s definition of what a competitor is.
As has been the case so far this season on the popular HBO show, there was a little bit of time dedicated to backup quarterback Zach Wilson and his relationship with the four-time NFL MVP Rodgers.
Players, coaches react to Zach Wilson’s 35-yard run
One of the top plays from the Jets’ 13-6 preseason loss to Tampa Bay last week was when Wilson zigged, zagged and spun his way to a 35-yard run during the second quarter.
Wilson capped the electrifying run by lowering his shoulder into a closing defender while leaning forward to pick up a few more yards.
— NFL (@NFL) August 20, 2023
The play got the New York sideline buzzing — particularly Wilson’s decision to not run out of bounds when he was near the sideline and instead initiate contact — and the “Hard Knocks” cameras were there to capture the conversations.
“He wanted to score — he wanted to score for real,” Jets wide receiver Mecole Hardman Jr. said.
“How cool was that to see Zach just running around,” Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich told Saleh.
“I wanted him to go out of bounds right there,” Saleh said.
“It’s just good for his spirit,” Ulbrich responded.
— NFL (@NFL) August 22, 2023
The best conversation, though, was between Wilson and Rodgers.
“Good run,” Rodgers told him when he greeted Wilson on the bench after the drive, while quickly adding, “Go out of bounds.”
The 39-year-old Rodgers then jokingly scolded the younger Wilson for making such an athletic play, one that brought some ribbing Rodgers’ way from other Jets players.
“They know I can’t do that (anymore),” Rodgers said, before adding, “That was awesome, kid.”
“Appreciate it,” Wilson said back.
That led to Rodgers recalling how, in his younger days, he might have tried to make a similar play instead of running out of bounds and avoiding contact.
“Now, if you just would have hurdled that guy, it would have been an all-timer,” Rodgers said.
Why Zach Wilson wears a headband
During his final season at BYU in 2020, Wilson famously wore a headband that read, “Any Time, Team, Place.”
He was known for wearing his headband during his playing days in Utah, and the quarterback continues to wear them in the NFL.
The reason? Rodgers got it out of him before their game against Tampa Bay, when he got in a little razzing for Wilson’s signature apparel accessory.
“Bro. You still wearing that?” Rodgers joked with his backup.
“I have to,” Wilson said. “I told you, it’s not a look thing. I literally sweat in my eyes and can’t see.”
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) August 22, 2023
Family of five
Hands down the cutest scene of this week’s episode came from veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb and his wife telling their two boys that a new baby would be joining the family.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 22, 2023
“He called me fat, bro.” — Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, talking about Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans during a joint practice.
“He too little. He too little for me.” — Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner, on tussling during joint practice with Buccaneers wide receiver Deven Thompkins, a former Utah State star.
“This kid doesn’t know how lucky he has it — he’s catching passes from Aaron Rodgers.” — Saleh, talking about one of his kids playing catch with the quarterback during practice.
How to watch ‘Hard Knocks’
The 18th season of “Hard Knocks” continued Tuesday night with the third one-hour episode.
New episodes are released each Tuesday at 8 p.m. MDT, leading up to the season finale on Sept. 5. There will be five episodes in total.
HBO subscribers can watch episodes live on the channel. Those who are subscribed to HBO’s streaming service, Max, can also watch it live or find it to stream after 8 p.m. each Tuesday.