Steelers.com brings you the Ask the Steelers feature. Fans submitted the questions that were asked. Please understand that we receive an incredible number of questions for each player, with many of the questions being similar, and not all of the questions can be answered. We selected as many as possible, and took your questions to the current subject to get your answers.
Defensive end Ziggy HoodAndrew Beard: Going into your fourth season with the Steelers, how much do you think you have progressed in this defensive line?Hood: I do believe I have gotten better, not only on the field but in the classroom, picking up the offensive schemes and what they are doing. It's not only knowing how to play the play, but being able to read formations. It's now becoming a lot clearer. As the seasons go on I get better and better.
George Net, Newark, New Jersey: You open the 2012 season at Denver. Is there going to be a little extra motivation to beat the Broncos since they knocked you out of the playoffs?
Hood: It would be hard to say no, there is always going to be that energy you put into it. It's not just because it's the first game, but it's also going to be on national television, on Sunday night. A lot of guys are going to be prepared. I think the team will be ready to face them.
Les Malone, Ontario, Canada: Since you arrived here have you seen the intensity in the rivalry between the Steelers and the Ravens increase?
Hood: It's a hard-hitting game, two teams going at it. When you know you are going to play the Ravens, you know you have to gear up and strap on your big boy pads.
Jeff McDonald, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: What is a Steelers-Ravens game like in the trenches, battling on the line?
Hood: It's tough. If you don't whop that guy in front of you, he is going to whop you. You want to be the best at your position, but also play and do your job well. You don't want to get too excited, you have to go out there and help the team win.
Mark Eller, Houston, Texas: What did Aaron Smith teach you?
Hood: Just enjoy yourself and relax. Things aren't always going to go the way you want them to all of the time, but if you work hard, learn from your mistakes and keep your head up you will get better. I don't know anyone who doesn't learn from their mistakes and get better.
Sally Morris, Seattle, Washington: How strange will it be not to have Aaron out there at practice and in the locker room?
Hood: It's going to be strange. I have been with the guy the last three years, having him around helps you out; he helps you correct your mistakes. We just have to continue the trend he and Chris Hoke left and what they did for us when they were here.
Rod Jones, Los Angeles, California: You and Steve McLendon seem to be close. Do you two push each other, motivate each other, and challenge each other?
Hood: You have to. Whenever you have a guy that came out the same year as you, plays almost the same position as you, you have to motivate him because he could be the next guy. You try to do whatever you can to make him better because he is going to make you better in the process.
Matt Zimmerman, Landover, Maryland: On draft day Coach (John) Mitchell made a comment about Steve McLendon and his potential. From someone who practices with him daily, what can we expect from him?
Hood: He is a hard worker. He is going to go out there and give it all he's got. He works out with me, I am no slacker when it comes to hard work. I think he is going to go out there and perform well and give the fans what they want.
Doug Mills, Washington, Pennsylvania: You still have Brett Keisel and Casey Hampton on the line, but with Aaron Smith and Chris Hoke gone, do you now step up to become more of a leader?
Hood: I am going to have to whether I am ready or not. I am going to have to step into that role and do a great job of leading by example. I am not really a vocal leader, but if I go out there and do what I am capable of doing and allow my skill set to take over, everybody will see that I can do it.
Alan Garcia, Amarillo, Texas: I'm a junior at your old high school. I was wondering what was your favorite memory from school?
Hood: When we played against Friendship, it wasn't my senior year, it was my junior year and we finally beat them and we went further in the district playoffs. That would be the best memory.
Rick Peterson, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Why is it important for you to spend so much time in the weight room?
Hood: It's just a habit I picked up. I figured if I am in the weight room I might as well be the best at what I can do, whether that's being bigger, faster or stronger. It really doesn't matter. As long as I am in the weight room doing what I am doing I know it can translate on the field and make me a better player.