Aidan Hutchinson’s singing was a big hit in the first episode of “Hard Knocks.” Next up might be Kalil Pimpleton’s juggling.
An undrafted rookie out of Central Michigan, Pimpleton is one of several rookies who have joined Hutchinson as performers in the Detroit Lions‘ rookie talent show through the first two weeks of training camp.
Hutchinson earned rave reviews for his performance of the Michael Jackson song “Billie Jean,” which aired in the first episode of the HBO docuseries “Hard Knocks” on Tuesday.
Rookie cornerback Chase Lucas called Pimpleton’s juggling rendition “dope” and said he hopes it airs in Episode 2 next week.
“He was like, ‘I’m going to just juggle real quick,'” Lucas said. “He started juggling, people started booing him and next thing you know he started throwing the ball between his legs, throwing it behind his back. So it went from booing to clapping real fast. So I’m excited to see it on the episode.”
Lions coach Dan Campbell has his rookies perform a non-football talent in the team meeting room as a form of rookie initiation that is common across the NFL.
In the first episode of “Hard Knocks,” after Campbell called Hutchinson to the front of the room, Hutchinson said his name, school and signing bonus amount ($23 million), then danced as he sang “Billie Jean” while his teammates loudly joined in.
Rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez also appeared in the episode doing a cumbia dance, a traditional folk dance from Colombia, as part of the rookie talent show.
“Family get-togethers, my dad’s side, we play a lot of cumbia music, so we do a lot of dancing back at the patios and stuff like that,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just one of those things where every time we get together on the back porch, start dancing it up a little bit. Definitely a family thing.”
Both Rodriguez and Lucas said they watched the first episode of “Hard Knocks,” while some veterans did not. Lucas said the episode was an accurate portrayal of Lions camp so far.
“It was fun,” Rodriguez said. “I had a good laugh.”
Campbell said he did not watch the episode, but received messages from friends and old college roommates who “crushed” him for some of the content he provided, like making a Metallica reference early in the show.
While the first episode was well received nationally, Campbell said he is not concerned with how it impacts his image
“I am who I am,” he said. “Look, anytime you do something like this, this is a big thing and you’re going to be out there in the public eye and people are going to gather their own perception of who you are and I’m not changing that. I mean, one way or another I can’t change that, I just got to be myself.”
New No. 9
A year and a half after trading Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams, the Lions are putting Stafford’s old jersey back in circulation.
Rookie receiver Jameson Williams will wear No. 9 this fall after initially choosing No. 18. Williams, who does not know Stafford but texted him after changing numbers, posted a picture of his new jersey on Instagram.
Williams said this spring he chose No. 18 to honor Calvin Johnson, who wore No. 81 during his Hall-of-Fame career in Detroit. At the time, Williams said he was turned down when he approached Jeff Okudah about getting No. 1, and was not sure if he would change numbers.
“I’m going to have to find something else, you know, or rock out with the 18.” he said.
Williams has not practiced this summer as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL he suffered in January. He is expected to begin the regular season on the non-football injury list but should return somewhere around midseason.