Last year defensive end Ziggy Hood was being inundated with information, trying to learn the playbook while making an impression during his rookie OTAs.
What a difference a year makes. Hood, now in his second season, is feeling comfortable in the Steelers defense.
“It’s like a sigh of relief,” said Hood. “I pretty much have the playbook down, not all of it yet, to where I can focus out there on perfecting my skills and technique on the field.”
As the 2009 season progressed, Hood felt like his technique improved steadily and it showed in the form of playing time, especially when injuries hampered the defensive line.
“You can tell how it improved by the amount of production on the field,” said Hood. “When my technique got better, my production went up about half way or near the end of the season last year.”
Hood looks at this year’s OTAs as being just important as the sessions his rookie year, allowing him the opportunity to grow even further.
“They are a key for me,” said Hood. “For the young guys this is where you grow and refine your skills. The vets know it. They can take it easy. For the young guys it’s a learning curve and it helps make it better.”
While Hood is offering encouragement to the current rookie class, he is leaving most of the advice giving to the older veterans on the team.
“The only thing I can do is provide my side of the story,” said Hood. “Right now it’s the vet’s job. I am in no situation to tell them anything because I am only in my second year here.”
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Rookie running back Jonathan Dwyer has an inside track on getting advice from one of the team’s most established veterans.
Dwyer is cousins with linebacker James Farrior, with Dwyer’s great grandfather and Farrior’s great grandmother being first cousins.
“He can tell me the ins and outs and how to be a great player, being able to play as long as he has,” said Dwyer, who found out from family about the relationship. “That is what is great about the camaraderie we have in the locker room.”