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‘Hard Knocks’ ends with hard realities for some Rams

Rams rookies, including defensive lineman Ian Seau (72), stretch during minicamp on May 6. Seau didn't make the Rams' roster.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

There wasn’t much to laugh about or even poke fun of in the final episode of “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Los Angeles Rams.”

It was cut day.

We knew that’s how the Rams’ five-week training camp would end. Accurate predictions were even made in this space about which players — despite occupying an overwhelming amount of “Hard Knocks” airtime — wouldn’t make the final 53-man roster, yet it was still difficult to watch as 22 guys were let go.

Offensive lineman Eric Kush, the man with 1,000 tank tops (most of which should be destroyed) didn’t make the team. Neither did receiver Austin Hill, whose young daughter played a starring role in the series, or defensive lineman Ian Seau, the nephew of late Hall of Famer Junior Seau, whom “Hard Knocks” crews followed throughout camp.

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Kush, a fourth-year pro, appeared to take his release especially hard. “You played your [butt] off all preseason,” Coach Jeff Fisher told Kush. “But I can’t keep everybody.”

Kush packed his locker, wearing a t-shirt instead of a tank top, and muttered to “Hard Knocks” cameras, “Today sucks, man… but that’s part of the business, part of the journey.”

The Chicago Bears signed Kush almost immediately after the Rams cut him.

Hill was a longshot to make the roster after he was signed late into training camp. “I’ve been cut multiple times and you always think it’s going to be easier each time, but it’s not,” Hill said.

Seau made a few standout plays during camp, but was told by coaches that he must become stronger to play in the NFL.

Some players didn’t make the 53-man roster, but avoided being cut. Among them was receiver Paul McRoberts.

In the final exhibition game against the Minnesota Vikings McRoberts muffed a punt return, hung his head and walked off the field. “I’m cut, bro,” he said. It was one of the most emotional scenes of the season with the realization that when afforded limited opportunities one mistake could cost a player his dream.

However McRoberts, an undrafted free agent from Southeast Missouri State, later made a touchdown reception and eventually was signed to the practice squad.

The finale opened with cornerback LaMarcus Joyner meeting with Fisher in his office. Joyner, a third-year pro, told the coach that he didn’t know if he was passionate about football.

It seemed Joyner was perhaps most concerned with making the starting lineup. “That nickel spot inside, it is the hardest position to play. You’re the best that I’ve had here in years inside. It’s a starting position,” Fisher told him. Joyner returned to the practice field and played in the final exhibition game.

He’s on the 53-man roster.

So that wraps the 11th season of “Hard Knocks,” and what should be considered the most vanilla season of the HBO series.

That’s excellent news for reporters covering the team, who can breathe a sigh of relief knowing nothing crazy happened under their nose that they weren’t granted access to. And that there are plenty of stories left to be told.

But if there is one thing we are all better off for learning during “Hard Knocks” — players, reporters and fans alike — it’s that the Rams are not, according to Fisher, finishing 7-9, 8-8, 9-7 or 10-6 this season.


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