Make or Break For Ziggy Hood

Since being the 32nd overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Ziggy Hood has had an up and down career with the black and gold. Through his four year career, Hood has shown flashes of being an every down contribution to the Steelers defense, but has yet to dominate his technique like his former teammate Aaron Smith did.

Since being drafted in 2009, Hood has never missed a game. His endurance and ability to stay healthy is definitely a strength that he holds. However, since moving over from a Missouri defensive tackle to a 3-4 defensive end, Hood continues to have flaws in his technique.

“If your hand placement and your footwork isn’t good, you aren’t going to be in the correct position to make a play,” Hood said. “Small things like that will always get you in the right place. It may not get you there all the time, but you will be there more often than not.”

Hood now enters his last year of his rookie contract, and it may be his last chance to show he belongs with the Steelers. Hood has racked up 101 tackles in his career along with 8.5 sacks on the quarterback.

In 2012, 24 of Ziggy’s total 42 tackles came in December. That is over half of his total in a five week span. The rest of Hood’s 18 tackles came through 11 total games. Hood averaged just 1.6 tackles in those 11 games.

One factor that remains to be on Hood’s side is the possibility of the departure of Brett Keisel at season’s end. The 34 year old defensive end may see his years with the black and gold end after 2013 as well, but it would be hard for the Steelers to let go of two starters in the same season at the same position. This helps Hood’s chances of staying. Cam Heyward will be watched closely as the year progresses as a potential starter. As for now, Hood needs to show he can make it with the Steel curtain in his fight for a second contract.

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