Confidence on the line
By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer [EMAIL="firstname.lastname@example.org"]email@example.com[/EMAIL]
PITTSBURGH - The numbers weren't overwhelming, but there is no doubt 2011 was a big year for Steelers defensive linemen Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward.
A 2009 first-round draft pick of the Steelers, Hood made 14 starts at defensive end because of injuries to Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith. Last year's top draft pick, Heyward, became the primary backup at defensive end for the same reason.
Both should reap the benefits of their playing time this season.
"I think I learned a lot from the playbook. I learned a lot more about my position," Heyward said as the Steelers continued their three-day mini-camp Wednesday at their practice facility on Pittsburgh's South Side.
"It's an ongoing process. From the first day, I am constantly learning and getting more confident in my abilities. Ultimately, as I'm more confident, I'm able to do more. I think it will show on the field."
Hood had 31 tackles and 1.5 sacks last season, and Heyward contributed 11 tackles and a sack.
Smith had 70 tackles in 2002, his most productive season. His career high for sacks was eight, a number he reached in 2001 and 2004.
Smith's play also was long considered the standard by which 3-4 defensive ends were measured. Injuries, however, limited his play in the past three seasons and finally forced his retirement after 13 seasons.
Hood has lowered his body fat from 24 percent to 18 percent. He now packs 307 pounds on his 6-3 frame and looks as if he were chiseled from a block of granite.
"My wife and I made a commitment to each other to eat better and take better care of our bodies," Hood said. "We wanted to eat healthy as a family thing. It all started with our second son being born. I got ahold of the right people to help me excel in that area."
It's part of Hood's commitment to help replace Smith's quiet leadership on the defensive line.
Keisel and nose tackle Casey Hampton will still be the most vocal people in the Steelers' defensive line meetings, but Hood feels he can bring something to that as well.
"That's leadership that's not here," Hood said. "It's something you could fall back on, something you might see differently from him. He could coach you and make you a better player.
"My strength is leading by example. I'm not a vocal guy. I let Keisel and Hamp do that. I'll lead by playing hard. Hopefully, some guys will follow that and push harder."
Either Hood or Heyward will win the starting job opposite Keisel, but both figure to play a lot in the Steelers' defensive line rotation.
Heyward's head was swimming just trying to learn the playbook at this point last season. Now, however, he feels much more prepared to compete and let his play on the field speak for itself.
"I think once training camp rolls around, I'll better be able to evaluate what I'm doing," Heyward said. "I'm just out here trying to get better with my technique. There's not a lot of physicalness right now. I definitely feel more confident and better to play my position on the field."
Hall of Famer
Got this off the front page: [URL]http://network.yardbarker.com/nfl/article_external/ziggy_hoods_newest_workout_video/11093849[/URL]
Ziggy is a BEAST!!! Hopefully, the work in the gym will translate to the field.
A BEAST??? The guy is from another freakin planet. Jumping from his back onto a 50" height at 307lbs. That is unfreaking believeable. Lebeau--please let him rush the freakin passer instead of holding an OT at the LOS...PLEASE.
Originally Posted by Sugar
Hall of Famer
I know that some guys are just workout warriors, but Ziggy was a ballplayer that has turned into a workout warrior. Methinks that he and Cam are going to be VERY hard to contain at the LOS. That's saying nothing about da' Beard, either.
Originally Posted by Oviedo
Ziggy was already am NFL caliber athlete and player...
This year, he has pretty much remade his body...lean athletes like runners compete with about a 12-15% body fat, IIRC...
A 300+ pound man at an 18%? Wow...
Was going to say that about Heyward. Or, more accurately, ask when his inability to contribute anything worthwhile-much less claim a starting spot-gets the "bust" talk going. Ziggy may not be a bust, but he's surely a disappointing former 1st round pick.
Originally Posted by Crash
Last edited by Jackson; 06-27-2012 at 02:39 PM.
Every 1st Rounder Tomlin is associated with is a BUST. Them's just the rules. (sarcasm now)
Originally Posted by Jackson
It's funny how we dismiss "useless" drills (40 times) in one breath, and in the next breath we get all fired up over Hood and all this supposed talent. He is your classic workout warrior. It doesn't translate onto the field, certainly not to the level that his supposed talents would indicate.
Originally Posted by Sugar
Now, I'm not down on him. I think he can be a solid DE in our scheme. Same with Cam. Thinking he is anything more though (as if he is somehow restrained by the scheme) is silly and sets him up to look like a disappointment.
I'm thinking Keith Willis, I'm thinking Donald Evans, at best a Ray Seals. He's no Aaron Smith.
David DeCastro is a bust, he hasn't done a damn thing yet to this point...
Originally Posted by Oviedo
Hood clear-cut starter
August 4, 2012
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
An anticipated competition between two first-round draft choices at defensive end has not materialized in the first week of practice in pads in Latrobe.
As it was last season, Ziggy Hood ('09) starts on the left side and Cameron Heyward ('11) backs up Brett Keisel on the right. Hood started 10 games for an injured Aaron Smith in '10 and 14 games for Smith last season. This will be the first season he enters as the starter, provided things stay this way.
"I know what to do, I don't have to worry about learning the plays from somebody else," said Hood, describing what it means to enter this season No. 1 on the left. "I have the plays down."
He also cut some excess, he said, although he still weighs 305.
"I feel physically bigger. I dropped a lot of fat. The scale still reads 305, but I feel physically bigger."
His mentor, Smith, came to be honored by the Steelers and their fans and officially announce his retirement from football. Hood learned plenty from Smith in his three seasons with him, including techniques applied off the field.
"You see a lot of old guys put Icy Hot on themselves, like Aaron" Hood said of the pain-relieving cream. "I see why he did it because it warmed himself up, so I started doing it. I'd rather do it now than in my later-on years when everything would catch up to me at the last minute."
• The Steelers added cornerback Josh Victorian (No. 35) to replace Terry Carter, who was waived injured. Victorian has been with three teams since 2011 without making a roster.
• Roethlisberger threw early in practice but was held out of the 11-on-11 drills. Keisel and running back John Clay did not practice. None is known to be injured.
• Guard Willie Colon and defensive end Cam Heyward got into a tussle, and then Colon squared up and fired a punch to Heyward's helmet. They were then separated.
• Colon (ankle) and Isaac Redman (groin) came away with injuries Friday night.