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Thread: Rampaging Hood can't be denied

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    Default Rampaging Hood can't be denied

    Rampaging Hood can't be denied

    By Jim Wexell

    Posted Aug 1, 2010

    Ziggy Hood can't be denied by a coaching staff that's even giving their rampaging defensive end some time at nose tackle in order to get him on the field.

    LATROBE – There’s a new YouTube video of a woman at Yellowstone National Park moving into close range to snap a picture of a bison. A stick flies through the air and smacks the bison in the butt, sending the bison into a rampaging fury after the poor woman. That bison looked like Ziggy Hood on the first day of training camp.

    “What a difference a year makes!” Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin exclaimed after Hood stampeded first-round pick Maurkice Pouncey.

    Pouncey wasn’t alone. A variety of Steelers offensive linemen felt Ziggy’s wrath, as last year’s No. 1 pick showed he’s ready to live up to his enormous potential as a Steelers’ 3-4 end.

    “I’m a lot better,” Hood said when asked to compare this year to his rookie year. “I’m going out trying to get better instead of worrying about who’s looking at me or what I’ve got to do to look good on tape. I’m just more relaxed and going out there and playing football.”

    Hood looked far from relaxed Saturday as he used his long arms and quick feet to tear up his one-on-one opponents. But can too much be made of an individual drill?

    “No, because that’s the way he practices,” said line coach John Mitchell. “And he’s improving daily. That’s the thing I like about Ziggy Hood: He’s never satisfied with the day he had. He’s going to come in today wanting to be better than he was yesterday.”

    Mitchell said that Hood played as well during the team scrimmages as he did in the one-on-ones, but of course the Steelers’ scheme doesn’t really allow for a defensive end to knock his man to the ground and step on his face. Too bad.

    “I got them off balance once or twice,” the ever-humble Hood explained. “It happens to everybody. I’m pretty sure they’re going to get me somewhere down the line, maybe today. I’m just happy that all the work seems to be paying off.”

    Hood has developed a reputation throughout the organization as a maniac in the weight room, a workout warrior striving to reach an elite class with the likes of James Harrison.

    “I don’t know about that,” Hood said. “But it’s just a habit for me: When I work, I work.”

    Hood spent the offseason living in the Steelers’ weight room. Each day he warmed up with a cardio exercise for 30 minutes, then lifted for two hours, and then performed football-type drills. With the start of camp, he remains a daily visitor, but will lighten his weight loads to save energy for practice. He hasn’t gained any weight, but has lowered his body fat to 21 percent.

    “There’s still room to get lower than that,” the 300-pounder said.

    Some in the organization worry that Hood might overtrain, that he needs to take more time off. But Hood said he knows his body too well. Mitchell just laughed at the idea.

    “Young guys can’t overtrain,” Mitchell said. Hood, of course, is stuck somewhere on the Steelers’ bench behind Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel. So Mitchell’s given him a few reps at nose tackle because “the more you can do; you never know how injuries are going to unfold.”

    And like a hitter who batters the outfield wall every time up, coaches will find a way to get a rampaging bison on the field.

    “Definitely,” Mitchell said. “I’ve got six guys who can play and we’re going to rotate guys. That’s what I told them yesterday. We’re going to rotate guys and we’re going to have our first wave and then we’re going to bring our second wave in and then we’re going to bring the first wave back and we’re just going to storm the beach with those six guys. We’re coming after those guys.

    “They’re going to play. We’re not going to let any good football player sit the bench.”

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    Default Re: Rampaging Hood can't be denied

    He's also more comfortable with the play book too so now he can go out and react and let the natural ability play out rather than go out and playing too mental. That's something that makes a big difference from a rookie to the 2nd year. It's the overall comfort level.

    I'm not at all wishing injury but Hood is going to get a lot of playing time this year. I felt he looked solid for a rookie last year, he's going to find his way onto the roster. Perhaps it's just to give the older guys a rest which they'll need
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    Default Re: Rampaging Hood can't be denied

    Steelers DE Hood is making his (spin) move

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Aaron Smith, who knows a thing or two about playing defensive end, made a prediction Sunday about second-year man Ziggy Hood.

    "I think he's going to be something special," Smith said.

    It may take some time for Hood, a 2009 first-round pick, to prove Smith right since he is blocked from the starting lineup by his mentor as well as Brett Keisel.

    Trying to get Hood on the field more this season would be a nice problem to have for the Steelers since that would mean Smith and Keisel stay healthy, something the duo hasn't done in the same season since 2006.

    Keisel, who starts at right defensive end, missed six games in 2008 with calf and knee injuries. Smith, meanwhile, didn't play after the middle of October last season because of a torn labrum.

    Smith and the Steelers got good news Saturday when the 12th-year veteran practiced in pads for the first time since the shoulder injury and didn't experience any problems.

    "You worry, 'Are you still able to do it?' " Smith said of concerns he had after the lengthy layoff. "The first day answers the questions for you."

    When asked the answers he received after the first two practices of training camp, Smith smiled.

    "I felt good," he said. "I like playing."

    Hood apparently does, too.

    He has stood out in drills during the early part of training camp. Saturday, Hood delivered a welcome-to-the-NFL moment to rookie guard Maurkice Pouncey when he knocked down the first-round pick during a one-on-one drill.

    Yesterday, he executed a textbook spin move and went right around offensive tackle Jonathan Scott in a similar drill.

    "He is markedly better than he was a year ago," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of Hood. "To this point, he's meeting the challenges."

    Hood said he is quicker and stronger than he was a year ago.

    "The game is slowing down little by little," Hood said.

    Translation: He has a solid grasp of the playbook and is doing considerably less thinking on the field.

    Hood is versatile enough to play both end positions in the Steelers' 3-4 defense. Defensive line coach John Mitchell is also getting him some work at nose tackle to see if Hood can handle that position as well.

    The 6-foot-3 Hood played tackle in a 4-3 defense at Missouri, and his weight is up to 310 pounds — he is listed at 300 pounds on the roster.

    It is not that the Steelers are grooming Hood as an eventual replacement for nose tackle Casey Hampton, who signed a three-year contract with the team last February.

    They are putting together contingency plans — and perhaps trying to find ways to get Hood more playing time this season.

    "You never know how injuries are going to unfold, so you want your best players on the field," Mitchell said.

    Hood said he is willing to bide him time.

    "The more I see and learn from (Smith and Keisel), the better it makes me," Hood said. "I may not get in many reps during the game, but if I can learn visually and train myself mentally, when I go in there, it won't be a big difference."

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