The top takeaways from the season finale of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” which debuted Tuesday night.
The NFL Films cameras loved tight end Devon Cajuste, even if the Browns didn’t like him enough to give him a roster spot.
Cajuste, a breakout star of the series, and his family got a ton of time in the final episode as he prepared for the preseason finale, played, then was waived. On the way onto the field in Detroit, quarterback Baker Mayfield and coordinator Todd Haley gave Cajuste grief for his belief in the power of crystals and stones.
“Treat the ball like one of your rocks,” Mayfield said.
“Pretend they’re trying to take a crystal away,” Haley said. “Block like you’re blocking for one of your rocks.”
** Jackson called No. 1 pick Mayfield and veteran Drew Stanton into his office to tell them he picked Mayfield as the No. 2 quarterback behind Tyrod Taylor.
“Which is a lot of responsibility for you,” Jackson said to Mayfield. “Doesn’t change for you (Stanton), still got to be ready to play, ready to go. But that’s the direction I want to travel.”
After dismissing Stanton, Jackson talked to Mayfield.
“I’m proud of what you’ve done, you’ve come in here the right way, you’ve handled everything the right way, and I think that’s important for this football team,” he said. “You’re a very talented young man, keep grinding. … This is going to be your life for a long time, so I hope you understand the opportunity that’s in front of you right now. I’m not just giving it to you, you’ve earned it.”
** The show opened with the news of linebacker Mychal Kendricks being charged with insider trading. Haley asked general manager John Dorsey, “Is he going to jail?”
Jackson then told the team Kendricks was getting cut.
“As I’ve said to all of you guys in here, there’s decisions and there’s consequences. And sometimes consequences are life-altering,” Jackson said.
** The theme of the show was the roster cuts, and offensive line coach Bob Wylie passed along some words of wisdom.
“I never had a real job my whole life. Flew airplanes and coached football my whole life,” he said. “You guys don’t want real jobs. Having a real job is not good. You want these jobs. You put your name on the back of your shirt.”
** Defensive end Nate Orchard was cut despite a 64-yard interception return for a touchdown. Before the finale, line coach Clyde Simmons said Orchard was playing tentatively and had been inconsistent.
** Fourth-string quarterback Brogan Roback’s girlfriend cried when he threw a touchdown pass against the Lions and when he was cut.
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** Assistant GM Eliot Wolf called the players who were cut to tell them to report to team headquarters.
** Defensive end Carl Nassib, whose sense of humor was featured throughout the five episodes, wished Jackson well in their meeting after he was cut.
“I wish I could be here with you when things actually turn around, but I wish you all the best,” Nassib said. “You’re a great guy, great coach and you’re going to do good things here.”
** Rookie receiver Antonio Callaway got a pep talk from Steelers All-Pro wideout Antonio Brown in a FaceTime session.
“We only got 16 limited opportunities, so you’ve got to be a pro, baby,” Brown said. “Time to eat greedy.”
** Jackson addressed the 53-man roster after the cuts. “Cleveland Browns win football games, everybody understand that?” he said. “That’s why you are in here, for no other f—–’ reason other than that. That’s why we’re here. That’s what it is.”
** The show finishes with the stripes being put back on the helmets after being “earned.” The players practiced with them Monday.