Former Penn State Star Headlines Hard Knocks

This year’s season of HBO’s Hard Knocks has been filled with drama. The Antonio Brown dispute with his helmet served as a headline. Then, Brown’s frostbite on his feet from cryotherapy has also been a major talking point. Not to mention, Head Coach Jon Gruden knows how to operate in front of a camera with his catch phrases and a voice that everyone tries to imitate.

This week, yes, the attention remained on both Gruden and Brown, but the football documentary series highlighted a former Penn State Nittany Lion, Jason Cabinda. His relationship with his mother, Natalie, was highlighted throughout Tuesday night’s show.


Cabinda’s appearance in the show began when Jason FaceTimed his mother Natalie. During the FaceTime call, Jason told his mother that he got her tickets for the game in Canada. She reacted with plenty of surprise and happiness, as she told Jason on the call, “this made my day”.

From there, the cameras showed Cabinda struggling to make plays in practice and getting frustrated with himself. However, before long, Cabinda appeared to be locked in and making play after play, ending his workout on a strong note before traveling to Winnipeg for the Raiders third preseason game.

When the Raiders and Cabinda arrived in Winnipeg, Natalie met up with Jason in the hotel lobby. Jason and his mother then went sight seeing around the city. After that, the Hard Knocks crew focused on both Jason and Natalie throughout the Raiders preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. Natalie provided commentary from the stands while the cameras focused on Jason’s performance on the field. Natalie seemed very knowledgeable about football throughout the show. She mentioned the Packers tendency to throw the ball deep, as well as her son’s ability to be around the ball at all times.

Although the Raiders struggled in the first half defensively, allowing 21 points in the second quarter alone, they rebounded behind the leadership of Cabinda at linebacker. The Raider defense shut the Packers out in the second half and allowed their offense to come back and win the game 22-21.

With Cabinda being a highlight in the show and not being a star player on the roster like Antonio Brown or Derek Carr, this is certainly a signal that the undrafted free agent from 2018 is a borderline roster player. He was a member of both the practice squad and active roster with Oakland in 2018.

But, as the series usually does, they will likely have fans latch on to Cabinda and root for him to make the final 53-man roster. I’m sure there will be plenty of Penn State fans hoping Cabinda makes the final cut. With the last episode of the season coming out next Tuesday, we will see what Jason Cabinda’s fate will be and if his mother will get another FaceTime call.

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