Ziggy Hood has rebounded in his first season with the Redskins. Now the 2009 first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers is ready to show off his new form against the team that drafted him.
When the Washington Redskins decided to sign veteran defensive end Ziggy Hood in March, they weren't exactly sure what sort of player they were getting.
For the first five seasons of his career, Hood appeared in every single regular season game for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
During the frenzy of 2014 free agency, Hood left Pittsburgh to sign a long-term deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team looking for a consistent veteran presence like Hood.
Hood once again appeared in all 16 regular season games with his new team, collecting 24 tackles and a sack.
Then came the 2015 season, though.
The 6-foot-3, 305 pounder started the year on Injured Reserve as he dealt with a foot injury. He would be released in October before the Chicago Bears decided to sign him.
His Chicago stint lasted all of two games before he was once again released.
Will a clean bill of health and an impressive offseason of work under his belt, Hood is ready to show the league that he can still be an impact player. He also earned the opportunity to be a co-starter at left defensive end along with Ricky Jean Francois.
"[He] picked up the defense, but once we got the pads on him was really when he stood out," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "The 1-on-1 drills, the team drills, he was in the backfield being very disruptive. It was a consistent thing. It wasn't like one day he did well and the next day he didn't do anything. He was consistently a nuisance and a problem for our offense. He's earned his way into the starting lineup."
The Washington Redskins on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, announced the signing of veteran defensive lineman Ziggy Hood. Take a look at his NFL career in photos.
Hood said his climb back to the top of an NFL team's depth chart was credit to months of preparation paying off.
"I did what I had to do to put myself in position – as far as working hard, listening to the coaches, seeing what I had to do to even make the team and just really excel in training camp," Hood said.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin – who worked with Hood for all five of his seasons in Pittsburgh -- said it was "no surprise" to him when he found out Hood will have a large role on the Redskins' defense.
"He has always had a good natural get off," Tomlin said. "He's always working at his craft; he realizes that his professional detail is an element of it, and when he was with us that was always his approach to getting better."
Monday's matchup with the Steelers will mark the second time he's faced the team that drafted him. In a Week 5 game against Pittsburgh in 2014, Hood played on 31 of the defense's 69 snaps against an offense that tests defenses' wills with an up-tempo pace.
"We're kind of used to that so when it comes to the game, it's not going to be anything that catches us off-(guard) such as tempo, getting the calls and trying to break it," Hood said. "They're going to get plays. They get paid as well. It's our job to eliminate them getting across that goal line. If we end up with more points than they do, then our job is done."