As the City of Angels opens its arms to an NFL franchise for the first time in more than two decades, the Los Angeles Rams will open up every aspect of their organization, team, and training camp to cable giant HBO Sports’ documentary series “Hard Knocks.”
Entering the 11th season of the show since 2001, the Rams make their return to Los Angeles after spending the last 21 years in St. Louis. This year’s “Hard Knocks” marks the first time it will follow the Rams and a recently relocated team and should provide plenty of compelling storylines.
The first episode is scheduled to air Tuesday, Aug. 9 at 10 p.m. ET on HBO and will run throughout the preseason. Since 2007, each season has consisted of five episodes, covering training camp, all of the preseason, and the final day of roster cuts.
Led by head coach Jeff Fisher, the Rams are coming a 7-9 run in the 2015 season but are also in different phases of flux as they adapt to a new stadium, new fans, and new rookie quarterback in former California star Jared Goff.
Goff, who Los Angeles acquired from Tennessee in exchange for a two first, two second, and two third-round selections in order to move up to the No. 1 spot in April’s draft, will be the second rookie quarterback chronicled by “Hard Knocks.” The first was Miami’s Ryan Tannehill in 2012.
The show will also feature the Rams best player and last season’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in running back Todd Gurley, who overcame a serious knee injury in his final college season to rank third in the NFL with 1,106 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
But the true heart of the show comes down to the examination of NFL life, in particular how aging veteran players, rookies, and undrafted free agents battle for a spot on the final 53-man roster or the practice squad.
Goff, even though Los Angeles bet their highest picks for two drafts on his projected success, does have to contend with veteran Case Keenum for the right to start in Week 1.
The Rams, who currently have 27 rookies on their roster, will also see if they spent their fourth-round draft choices wisely on former South Carolina standout receiver Pharoh Cooper and Western Kentucky tight end Tyler Higbee.
And similar to when the New York Jets were featured in 2010 while they tried to work out a contract with cornerback Darrelle Revis, the show will likely touch on the drama surrounding NFL business and player contracts. Last week, cornerback Trumaine Johnson and the Rams couldn’t come to terms on a long-term deal and he’ll play out the 2016 season under the league’s non-exclusive franchise tag for more than $13 million.
While “Hard Knocks” typically follows players and coaches just before the start of training camp, this year “Hard Knocks” and NFL Films began production earlier and recently released a promotional trailer titled “I Am Football” that tracked a football’s travels thru quarterback and kicking drills.
Earlier this month, the Rams also agreed to be part of an E! Network reality show titled “Hollywood & Football,” which will focus on players and their families as they transition from St. Louis to Los Angeles.