The second episode of HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ premiered Tuesday night and continued its look at the Miami Dolphins in the second half of the 2023 season with a focus on the team’s preparation for the NFL’s first Black Friday Game and an unfortunate injury to one of the team’s top players.
Here are highlights from the episode.
Prep for Black Friday Game
The Dolphins’ Week 12 game against the New York Jets was the league’s first ever game on Black Friday. And coming on a short week, it added more challenges to preparation for a divisional opponent.
The frenetic practice schedule is detailed, with a series of meetings and walkthroughs stacked on top of each other to prepare for New York.
Coach Mike McDaniel, speaking to his team on the practice field, emphasizes the need to get more sleep than usual on a short week.
Because of the short practice week, the team spent Thanksgiving at the Baptist Health Training Complex to put a bow on its prep before traveling north in the game. But the team also made time for a Thanksgiving community event before traveling and so did quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, teaming up with UM safety Kam Kinchens to hand out turkeys at Gwen Cherry Park.
Cameras inside the various position rooms show the Dolphins’ quarterback rooms saying what they are thankful for.
Quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell calls the team’s position room “probably the best one I’ve been around.”
Jaelan Phillips’ ascension — and injury
After focusing much of the debut episode on the offense and its stars, episode 2 highlights the Dolphins’ defense and its top playmakers, specifically Phillips, who sustained a season-ending Achilles injury against the Jets.
The episode details Phillips’ journey, from walking away from the game while at UCLA, to returning to the field at University of Miami and overcoming early-season injuries for the best stretch of his young career.
“You’re about to be a household name after today. But let the game come to you,” McDaniel tells Phillips before the game.
The episode later details the moment in which Phillips falls to the ground with injury, immediately telling his teammates that he hurt his Achilles.
“I think my [expletive] popped. My Achilles,” Phillips says.
As teammates try to calm him down, the reality of the situation starts to come upon Phillips and he breaks into tears as he’s carted off the field.
Following the game, the team’s outside linebackers — Phillips isn’t present — meet at Bradley Chubb’s and talk about how they are going to support Phillips through his rehabilitation.
Phillips is later shown entering the team’s training room on a scooter, where he talks about the injury.
“It felt like somebody stepped on my heel, or kicked me in the back of my leg,” Phillips said in the team’s training room.
As the episode comes to a close, he says: “I’m just going to keep fighting ... I’m going to be back soon,” he says.