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 HoodDan Myers, Rochester, New York: Are you the strongest player on the team and if not, who is or who else is close to you in strength?
Hood: I believe I am the strongest and I would say either James Harrison or Steve is right behind me.
Dan Peterson: What was your offseason conditioning like this year?
Hood: It's been more about my diet more than anything else, taking out the bad foods, taking out the bad carbs and fats and maintaining my weight. I want to be in the best shape as I can. The weight lifting is always there. It ranges, but it's mostly about my diet.
David Rudin, Colorado: A lot has been made about draft prospects and their performance at the combine, especially how many reps they did with 225 pounds on the bench press. Knowing that you're no stranger to the weight room, what's your best number of reps with 225 lbs?
Hood: I know I did at least 37 times at pro day. That was my third try and probably the last time I did it.
Jake Brown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: How much does the adrenaline pump when you are waiting for the ball to be snapped and go on the attack?
Hood: You have to maintain yourself. You have to focus in on the ball. You don't want to be over pumped because you may hurt the team with a five-yard penalty. It could be third-and-four and you need the stop them to win the game. You have to do your best to hold yourself and once the ball is snapped you unleash and do what you have to do.
Doug Nash, Memphis, Tennessee: The difference between college and the pros is significant and I am only an observer. Is there anything in retrospect that would have helped in the learning curve that you wish you had or could have done differently?
Hood: The NFL and college is similar, but in the pros you have to be smarter knowing what to do, how to do it and when to do it. In college you can go full speed, make a mistake and be okay. Here you mess up one time it could cost you your job. It's probably more mental than anything else. The game is also a lot faster.
Mike Kirkham: The Steelers defense is one of the best in the NFL and always has been. That being said, does that put pressure on young players, getting a chance to make the team and then putting a Steelers uniform on and going out there to stand next to some the best?
Hood: It puts a little pressure on young guys like myself coming in, but I believe they draft you for one reason, to go out there and show your ability. You can't control what happens on the field, but you can control what you do. If you are going to be one of the best defenses in the league you have to make yourself better and keep rolling.
Nick Kelly from Minneapolis, Minnesota: What area of your game would you like to improve at?
Hood: My pass rush. My focus has always been stopping the run, because that is what we are known to do. I got away from doing what I did best in college and that was the pass rush. I have been focusing on those areas, hand fighting technique, getting low off the ball at the snap.
Maria Clark, New York, New York: You have a new group of rookies now with the team. What kind of advice would you give them as they adjust to the NFL?
Hood: I can tell them the same things they told me - don't believe the hype and whatever got you here, keep doing it plus more.
Eric Mayer, Brooklyn, New York: As a former No. 1 pick is there a lot of pressure to live up to the expectations of being a top draft pick?
Hood: When you are the first pick people want you to come in and get certain numbers. But in this defense you don't have to do that. You come in and do what you are told to do. If you do your job, that is a plus. The coaches want us to stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback. That is our job. But if we can get sacks and tackles for loss that is a bonus for the team.
Joe Hoffman, Cleveland, Ohio: What is it like to play in Dick LeBeau's defense?
Hood: At first it was confusing, knowing all of the different schemes and stunts. The more reps you get in practice the easier it is. You can now run them in your sleep.
Ben Wright, Charlotte, North Carolina: How big is high school football in Texas?Hood: It's huge. It's probably the biggest thing outside of hunting. If you ever get a chance to go to a high school game, do it. The whole town stops. It's hard to explain. Texas football is huge. Everybody is going to the game or standing outside the fences watching it.