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|10-27-2010, 11:02 PM||#1|
A Son of Martha
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Opportunity knocks for Steelers' Hood
Opportunity knocks for Steelers' Hood
By John Harris
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Veteran defensive end Aaron Smith once gave teammate Ziggy Hood some advice that should be helpful now that Hood will likely replace Smith in the starting lineup.
"Patience pays off," Hood said Wednesday, recalling Smith's words. "You study, you do everything you can. When your opportunity comes, take it."
Hood is expected to replace Smith at left end. Smith had surgery Monday to repair a partially torn tricep muscle in his left arm that he suffered during Sunday's 23-22 win at Miami. Smith will be out indefinitely but wasn't placed on injured reserve in hopes he will be available later this season.
Coach Mike Tomlin was evasive at his weekly news conference Tuesday when he indicated he will choose between Hood and Nick Eason, who started at right defensive end for Brett Keisel against the Dolphins. However, even if Keisel returns from a hamstring injury and plays against the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome on Halloween night, Hood said he will receive the nod over Eason as Smith's repalcement.
"If Brett goes down, Nick's starting. If Aaron goes down, I'm starting. That's just how it is, no matter what they say," Hood said before yesterday's practice.
"I really haven't practiced too much at right (end)," Hood said. "I wouldn't want to put myself in that situation where I'm not comfortable. I'd rather stay at left (end)."
Hood said he's finally recovered from a high ankle sprain he suffered against Tampa Bay in the third game of the season. The injury limited his first step off the ball.
"I was feeling a whole lot better in Miami," Hood said. "Your feet and hands make you your money."
Smith, one of the best defensive ends in football, has maintained a high level of play for years. Hood will likely step into the starting lineup as the Steelers' first defensive lineman drafted in the first round since Casey Hampton in 2001.
This season, Hood has two tackles, three quarterback pressures and one pass defended.
"I played a whole lot more than last year, got a lot more snaps," said Hood, who appeared in all 16 games as a rookie. "I feel a lot more comfortable. I've got to grow up and be a better player. Aaron's done it for years. While he's down, I've got to fill in. I won't be able to do the same job because that's Aaron Smith -- he's a great player. But if I can do at least half of what he does, I'll feel like I've done my job."
Hood said that he's excited he may have the chance to make his first NFL start.
"You dream about the chance," he said.
Keisel, who became a starter in his fifth season, said Hood will get his chance much sooner than previous Steelers defensive linemen.
"Ziggy's made a lot of strides," Keisel said. "People say your third year around here is when you really step into that next level. Ziggy has to do it in his second year. With the situation we were dealt last year (Hood receiving unexpected playing time due to Smith missing 11 games because of injury), that's only going to build his confidence."
Hood said he's more confident because he understands his role and how to prepare as a starter.
"Sometimes you sit in the meetings, you're not really focusing. Now you start (focusing) on every little thing," Hood said. "Aaron Smith hardly smiles in meetings. He goes in there focused all the time. Coaches say certain things, Aaron picks it up. That's what I'm trying to live up to. I'm trying to learn all the different calls he's got in his mind.
"I may not get any tackles or pressure, but it (doesn't) matter. As long as you do your job, hold your gap and at least try to force them to throw a bad ball, you've done your job."
John Harris can be reached at email@example.com or 412-481-5432.
|10-27-2010, 11:16 PM||#2|
IRONMAN a.k.a. Tony Stark
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Re: Opportunity knocks for Steelers' Hood
some people just dont know left from right.
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