'Hard Knocks' scrutiny easy so far for Dolphins

Miami Dolphins' Chad Johnson (85) practices during NFL football training camp in Davie, Fla., Monday, July 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Ryan Tannehill had forgotten about "Hard Knocks" when he reported to the Miami Dolphins training facility late Saturday night to sign his rookie contract.

He was quickly reminded.

"I get in the locker room, I turn around and there's like eight guys with cams," the Dolphins' first-round pick said. "Whoa! It's definitely different, but got to make the best of it."

The Dolphins are the focus of this year's edition of "Hard Knocks," the HBO series that takes viewers behind the scenes of an NFL training camp.

To compile about 300 hours of footage before it's whittled down to 60 minutes for each of the five episodes, NFL Films cameras are everywhere — in the meeting rooms, in the locker room, even in the middle of the practice field. According to show director Rob Gehring, there are five cameras shooting at all times, along with eight robotic cameras.

That kind of intrusion can be distracting, which is why not every team likes the idea of doing the show. But Dolphins players and coaches say they barely notice a difference.

"Aside from this thing stuck on my chest here," first-year Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said, pointing to a small microphone, "the cameras I wasn't even aware of. We told our coaches in the meetings and we told the players that we have to be ourselves. We have a job to do, as does NFL Films. It wasn't a big deal."

The Dolphins got a trial run at the "Hard Knocks" experience during the offseason when players were mic-ed up and cameras were everywhere, and second-year tight end Charles Clay said that was a big help.

"It was very weird," Clay said. "There were times in meetings where you're taking notes and you see the big lens, and it would kind of throw you off. I could not crack a smile a lot of times. Now, it's kind of second nature. You get used to it."

The Dolphins have two players who have appeared on "Hard Knocks" before — wide receiver Chad Johnson with Cincinnati in 2009 and linebacker Jamaal Westerman with the New York Jets in 2010. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle also was with the Bengals in 2009.

There was no "Hard Knocks" series last year because of the lockout, and this year's version will debut Aug. 7.

The series took a hiatus between 2002 and 2007, although footage was shot in 2004 at the Jacksonville Jaguars training camp. That was turned into "Inside Training Camp" and aired on the NFL Network.

New Dolphins quarterback David Garrard was a member of that Jacksonville team.

"The cameras weren't quite as much in my face, but I got used to them then and you get used to them now," Garrard said. "After a few days with them running around poking a camera in your face, you can actually talk to them and tell them, 'Maybe not right now.' Or you just keep going on doing what you're doing. You don't have to act. It's not acting. It's not like we've got to put on a show for the cameras. We just do what we do and if that was a good bite for them, then great. If not, they'll just find something else to plug in there."

When it comes to sound bites, there's no player on the current Dolphins roster — and few players around the league — who can deliver like Johnson.

He was a star on the 2009 version of "Hard Knocks," and it would be safe to assume he'll be prominently featured again.

Even his teammates are looking forward to seeing what Johnson will come up with.

"I want to see Chad," second-year center Mike Pouncey said. "They have him mic-ed up every day, so you know he's going to give you guys a show."

Defensive end Jared Odrick said the only time the cameras are pointed out is by reporters.

"For some guys, they're all up in the cameras," he said. "But we're practicing the same, if not better, knowing that there's more eyes upon us across the world."


HBO is owned by Time Warner Inc.