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Former Eastern Washington stars appear in season premier of HBO’s “Hard Knocks”

Former EWU standout and current Los Angeles Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam goes through coronavirus tests before beginning training camp, as seen on HBO's "Hard Knocks" docuseries.   (Screenshot/HBO)

Samson Ebukam has quietly established himself as one of the Los Angeles Rams’ primary edge rushers since he was drafted out of Eastern Washington in 2017.

He was quietly one of the best Football Championship Subdivision linebackers in the country during his time in Cheney, culminating in an All-American senior season.

There’s nothing quiet about the Portland native’s jovial personality, though, which shined in the season premiere of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” this week.

Season 15 of the popular, raw and in-depth docuseries chronicles the Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers’ preseason camps, as both franchises navigate coronavirus mandates and testing.

Filming began last week and a new episode airs every Tuesday through Sept. 8, giving plenty of former area college standouts the opportunity to make a cameo.

The Rams have three former EWU stars in Ebukam and receivers Cooper Kupp and Nsimba Webster.

Easop Winston Jr., an undrafted rookie receiver from Washington State, is also on the roster.

The Chargers have one local player in former Idaho receiver Jeff Cotton, an undrafted rookie, who briefly appeared in a scene this week running to his spot in team stretching.

This week’s “Hard Knocks” focused on the methods both organizations took in testing the mask-wearing players before they were allowed to practice.

Players appeared nervous about getting their noses swabbed, including Ebukam, who in one scene sat near a nurse as he collected himself after getting a swab in his nose. Players also got shots.

“That’s a big needle,” Ebukam said.

One Rams player tested positive, rookie and former Alabama linebacker Terrell Lewis.

When the Rams’ linebacker group had a position meeting on Zoom, Ebukam asked how long Lewis would be in quarantine away from the team.

“I think they put me on a 10-day,” Lewis said.

Ebukam, who in 2019 became the first ex-EWU player to start in a Super Bowl, didn’t envy Lewis’ situation.

“Ten days!” Ebukam said. “Bro. No, sir.”

Film crews were primarily at the practice fields, locker rooms, coaches’ offices and the home of Rams coach Sean McVay. Zoom meetings took over much of the show.

The popular documentary touched on how coaches and players have much of their communication through Zoom, as players were seen in more relaxed home settings.

“Is that an In-N-Out (cheeseburger) you’re eating?,” a player asked Ebukam in a Zoom meeting.

“Yup,” said Ebukam, holding the burger wrapper in the video call.