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pete74
08-08-2010, 03:46 PM
Not all great NFL players have had nicknames, and not all nicknames seem apt. Certainly, most do not fit as well as "Mean" Joe Greene or "Fats" Holmes or even "Big Snack," which could describe either what Casey Hampton ate just before curfew or the offensive linemen he devoured earlier in the day.

Then there is Evander "Ziggy" Hood, a 6-foot-3, 310-pound Steelers defensive end who is turning his second training camp into his own 'hood. No one, absolutely no one, calls him Evander. Even the Steelers' media guide (so conservative that for about the 28th time in the past 30 years it has nothing on its plain black cover but a Steelers logo) introduces his bio as Ziggy Hood DE. Few, if any, Steelers ever received that treatment -- not Big Ben, not Fats, not Mean Joe and, for sure, not James "Silverback" Harrison.

Few nicknames are as unfitting for a player as Ziggy, which was bestowed on Hood by his Spanish-speaking grandmother after the comic strip. The cartoon Ziggy is short, bald and, according to the website gocomics.com, "perpetually one step behind, one nickel short, one lane away from the fast lane."

Calling Evander Hood "Ziggy" is akin to referring to the bald Stooge as "Curly."

"He's big, he's strong and he's fast," said Aaron Smith, the Steelers' best defensive end in their 3-4 era who has been singing Ziggy's praises since last summer camp.

"He understands he has a lot to learn still. He learns it and then he uses it. Not everybody can do that. I think he's going to be a special player."

Hood has attracted plenty of attention at Saint Vincent for the way he has taken over his position. Unlike last year when they put him only at left end, he has played all three positions on the defensive line, including nose tackle.

Brentson Buckner spent 12 seasons playing on NFL defensive lines, his first three with the Steelers, and it did not take him long to notice Hood during his first week as a coaching intern.

"He's explosive, has strong hands, has a feel for the game and he's violent. That's the hardest thing to teach kids coming out of college. At this level, it's the intensity and the violence you have to play for. But he has that edge. He comes out ready to bite.

"When you have a guy who's 310 pounds, strong, fast and he has the motor, he has a chance to be great."

The only questions that follow Hood, the team's first-round draft choice in 2009, is where will he play and how much? The answer: Everywhere and often, yet he may not start unless there is an injury. Smith has been the starter at left end since 2000 and Brett Keisel at right end since 2006. The way the Steelers look at it, they have three starting ends now. Hood can play either side and give the ends rest periods during games.

"I don't have a problem with coming out of the game as long as there's no drop-off with the guy coming in," Keisel said. "I think that's when we've been at our best, when we've had a rotation of guys who can come in and play. It keeps us all fresh during the game and at the end of the season. The more guys we can have ready to play the better."

Whether he starts or not is not an issue for Hood. "I'd rather win than start. When you have two guys like that, I want to learn as much as I can when they're here. When they're gone, then it's me. It all falls on me."

More of it will fall on him this season.

SteelBlaze1
08-08-2010, 03:58 PM
Sounds like a great addition to our team. I was happy when we got him last year and look forward to him being even better this year.

steeltheone
08-08-2010, 07:55 PM
Once again, there is no excuse for him not starting...Thats the only way you get better!

mikegrimey
08-08-2010, 08:16 PM
It'll be good if he can follow in Smith's footsteps and take on double teams while still getting to the QB fairly often.

steeltheone
08-09-2010, 03:34 AM
Smith averages about 4 sacks a year. Better get more than that out of Ziggy!

pete74
08-09-2010, 05:10 AM
smith get 4 sacks a year because he takes on 2 lineman almost every play so our OLB'S can get at the QB. as much publicity as woodley and harrison get they wouldnt be close as good without our 3 lineman blocking for them

mikegrimey
08-09-2010, 05:19 AM
Well 4 sacks a year isn't that bad considering DE isn't a glamorous position in the 3-4 defense. Plus .3 of a second can mean the difference between a sack and a QB pressure. What's important is that they're able to crash the pocket on pass plays and make the QB's think before stepping up. Getting those pressures can be almost as good as a sack sometimes.

kirklandrules
08-09-2010, 09:20 AM
Smith is almost always in the backfield on pass plays, which is impressive given he goes through 2 lineman each time. I think the Steelers claim he has the most QB pressures even though it doesn't translate into sacks.

I like the idea of Ziggy getting significant playing time spelling the starters. Again, it's not having great starts, it's having quality depth that will get this team back to the SB.

truesteelerfan
08-09-2010, 01:25 PM
I LOVE the idea of having a stud as our #3 DE! Need to get him in there rotating with Brett and Aaron on a regular basis and pla.ying almost 1/3 of the snaps. It will make everyone else on the defense better if our DE are constantly getting pressure, taking on the double teams, and stuffing the run...which will be easier for them if they are fresh.

pete74
08-10-2010, 05:39 AM
all i have been hearing coming out of camp is how unstoppable he is. if he is playing that well there going to have to start him over smith or keisel

sharkweek
08-10-2010, 11:17 AM
Hope all those who were doubting are ready to eat some crow. Can't expect every draft pick to be a pro bowler their rookie season. Hopefully his improvements keep going on into the regular season.

FourThreeMafia
08-10-2010, 11:54 AM
all i have been hearing coming out of camp is how unstoppable he is. if he is playing that well there going to have to start him over smith or keisel



No way in hell does anyone take over for a healthy Smith.

He may be older, but until he shows otherwise, is still one of the best 3-4 lineman in the game today.

Kiesel is underrated, but I could see Ziggy really pushing him.

steeltheone
08-10-2010, 04:16 PM
Speed kills. We are lacking that on the d line.

SteelKnight
08-10-2010, 06:54 PM
smith get 4 sacks a year because he takes on 2 lineman almost every play so our OLB'S can get at the QB. as much publicity as woodley and harrison get they wouldnt be close as good without our 3 lineman blocking for them

I totally see where you are coming from. I must point out that Woodley has done well with Smith gone (actually improved). It is the 3-4 DEs job to occupy those 2 guys to free up the LB...not get the sacks himself so I know that is what you meant. If Smith was really helping then that means Woodley will be even BETTER this year.

I have a feeling that Hood would be better in the pass rush and even though it is not his job to get sacks, I have a feeling he would get some anyway...maybe 1 every 2 games (so like 8...plus put a lot of pressure on). The question would be how he plays in the running game. Here is where Smith would probably ave an edge.

I like Smith's attitude and I like the fact that he admits they get tired th quarter. Maybe Hood can help prevent that.

"You can see he's already made huge growth he's going to be somebody special," Smith said. "If you're good enough, you're going to get on the field. If we get a nice rotation going, it would be nice because guys won't have to play a ton of snaps and it will keep you more fresh. And maybe that fourth quarter we won't be so tired to finish."

pete74
08-10-2010, 07:41 PM
i agree and think hood will be a great pass rusher. hampton said today that he thinks hood is the strongest man on the team and he has the speed to go with it.

SteelKnight
08-10-2010, 08:33 PM
i agree and think hood will be a great pass rusher. hampton said today that he thinks hood is the strongest man on the team and he has the speed to go with it.

Yeah...I just don't like the idea of them putting him at NT. He didn't seem too thrilled about it in his interview either. Hampton and Hoke are fine there. We can get Hampton's replacement next year. Hampton has at least 2 more good years in him.

Smith has missed 16 games over the past 3 years and is getting older. Keisel has missed 7 games over 2 seasons. One of the two will be injured this season.

I know they said Keisel gets the most QB hurries and it is not his job to get sacks (just free up the LBs) but he has 6 sacks in 3 years. I believe Hood could get 8 in one year. JMO. For me the question is who is better against the run?

SteelKnight
08-10-2010, 08:36 PM
I just realized the Steelers never picked up Kirshke. He was getting old but I thought he was better than Eason. I believe he and Townsend will be signing 1 day contracts next year to retire as Steelers.